Alleged barricaded gunman fails to appear on murder charges

Tyleeb Reese

Tyleeb Reese

Tyleeb Reese, the alleged gunman who barricaded himself inside a Centre Street home for 35 hours last week during a deadly standoff with police, originally became wanted for arrest due to his prior failure to appear in court.

Reese, 35, of Trenton, again failed to appear in court Tuesday for his arraignment on murder and attempted murder charges.

A sex offender already in hot water for failing to register, Reese on Tuesday afternoon opted to stay behind bars rather than appear in court to face heavy charges in connection with last week’s fatal gunfight that left one civilian dead and three sheriff’s officers wounded.

As an inmate at the Mercer County Correction Center, Reese could have easily attended his first appearance hearing but nevertheless declined to come in the jail’s video conference room.

With the video conferencing system activated and Reese nowhere to be seen, “He is not here, your honor,” public defender Thomas Belsky told the judge about his client. “Mr. Reese declined to come in the video conference room.”

Reese, who has been charged with the murder of 56-year-old Robert Powell Jr. and the attempted murder of five law enforcement officials, surrendered to police last Thursday to bring a peaceful resolution to what had been a violent confrontation.

Since Jan. 1, new defendants normally get arraigned within 48 hours of arrest. But Reese’s Central Judicial Processing or CJP hearing was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday — five days after his arrest — due to him requiring medical evaluation after he complained of chest pains.

The public defender provided no explanation for why Reese declined to appear at his CJP hearing. If he attended, the judge likely would have asked Reese if he understood the charges against him and if he spoke with his attorney about his legal rights.

With Reese being a no-show, Belsky urged the judge to proceed with scheduling a detention hearing. The state has filed a motion seeking to place Reese on pretrial detention. If that motion is granted, Reese would continue to be held at the county jail without bail for up to two years while his case plays out in court.

A U.S. Marshals regional task force came after Reese about 6:20 a.m. last Wednesday to serve an arrest warrant due to Reese’s prior failure to appear in court for running afoul of Megan’s Law. Officers made entry into Reese’s home, and then a gunfight and 35-hour standoff ensued, authorities say. Reese’s mother helped persuade him to stand down and surrender.

Reese’s detention hearing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse.

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