Alleged gunman in Lyft murder misses court appearance due to illness

The fourth defendant to be arrested and charged in connection with last year’s murder of Amber Dudley did not appear in court Thursday for his scheduled detention hearing.

Ronderrick Manuel, 45, of Trenton, waived his court appearance on Thursday due to illness, according to his public defender Nicole Carlo.

Ronderrick Manuel

Ronderrick Manuel

Prosecutors are seeking to keep Manuel locked up without bail at the Mercer County jail on allegations he shot and killed Lyft rideshare passenger Amber Dudley last November in a grisly robbery-turned-murder. But prosecutors, instead of explaining why they want Manuel to be detained indefinitely pretrial, said nothing of substance at Manuel’s hearing on Thursday.

Prosecutors signaled they were not prepared to proceed with the detention hearing on Thursday, so a judge postponed the hearing to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 4, before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw.

While Manuel did not appear in court on Thursday, he apparently did make an initial court appearance earlier this week via video link. However, neither the press nor the general public was permitted to attend that initial arraignment on Tuesday due to the courtroom’s doors being locked in error, according to New Jersey Judiciary spokesman Pete McAleer. The legal proceeding, known as a CJP or Central Judicial Processing hearing, was supposed to be conducted in open court, not under the cloak of secrecy.

Manuel is the latest defendant to be arrested in connection with the murder of Dudley, 27, of Collingswood. The other defendants — Andrew Alston, Kasey Dezolt and Dominique Richter — have been charged with accomplice liability murder while Manuel is being prosecuted as the alleged principal gunman responsible for Dudley’s violent death in Trenton on Nov. 30, 2016.

Police arrested Manuel last week on allegations he burglarized a Ewing property and re-arrested him on Sunday night to face charges of murder, robbery and weapons offenses.

When Manuel finally has his detention hearing, prosecutors will likely argue he is a flight risk and too dangerous to the public to be released on any conditions. Manuel’s previous criminal history may also be cited at the hearing as well as his actual age.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office originally said Manuel was born on Dec. 17, 1973, but court records indicate he was born on Dec. 17, 1971.

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