PROSECUTORS: Alleged gunman in fatal Lyft robbery was found with firearm during arrest
When police arrested Andrew Alston last week in connection with last November’s fatal Lyft robbery, the 39-year-old Trenton man was found in alleged possession of drugs and a handgun.
On Tuesday, Alston appeared in court and consented to the state’s request calling for him to be incarcerated indefinitely without bail at the county jail as he awaits trial on serious charges.
Alston, who has a long rap sheet of prior arrests, has been charged with being an accomplice to felony murder, robbery and weapons offenses in connection with the murder of Amber Dudley, 27, of Collingswood. Public defender Jessica Lyons has previously said her client Alston pleads not guilty on all complaints against him. Alston has also been charged with additional weapons offenses and multiple drug offenses stemming from his Jan. 24 arrest.
Court records identify Mercer County Sheriff’s Detective James Udijohn as the arresting officer. Udijohn last year earned accolades as the 2016 Sheriff’s Officer of the Year and in August 2015 was involved in a high-profile police-involved shooting that wounded a Trenton teenager.
When Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw asked Alston how he was doing in court Tuesday afternoon, Alston responded, “I’m doing fine.”
Wearing a cream-colored jacket on top of his orange jumpsuit, Alston seemed eager to consent to indefinite pre-trial incarceration during Tuesday’s detention hearing.
“It’s a significant hearing,” Warshaw told Alston. “This has nothing to do with guilt or innocence. [This is about] deciding whether you are detained pending trial without bail.”
“If I waive all of that, I can just get on to the trial part?” Alston asked.
“The goal is to have the case tried within a year,” the judge responded.
Alston is the alleged gunman who fired a shot while robbing passengers of a Lyft rideshare service in Trenton on the night of Nov. 30, 2016. Co-defendants Kasey DeZolt, 32, and Dominique Richter, 31, were arrested last month as alleged accomplices to the murder of Dudley.
Alston has previously served time behind bars on robbery, theft and drug charges, among other offenses.
Before police issued a warrant for Alston’s arrest in late December 2016, he gave a formal statement to police on Dec, 7, 2016, according to his public defender who has demanded “discovery” access to evidence against her client, including area video surveillance footage and phone records in the felony murder case.
New bail reform procedures in New Jersey have displaced monetary bails in favor of a risk-based-assessment system that allows freshly arrested defendants to be released from jail on their own recognizance or released on special conditions pending the outcome of the case. But defendants charged with serious offenses such as murder can be denied pre-trial release and remain detained indefinitely if a judge deems that appropriate.
A judge in certain cases can impose a monetary bail on newly arrested defendants, but the new reforms strongly discourage a judge from going in that direction.