Alleged killer Tyleeb Reese fails to appear in court, lawyer cites health issues

Tyleeb Reese

Tyleeb Reese

Tyleeb Reese commanded international attention during a 35-hour deadly standoff with police earlier this month but has been unwilling to make one court appearance since his surrender.

Reese, 35, of Trenton, failed to appear at his arraignment on May 16 and on Monday failed to appear at his detention hearing.

Public defender Nicole Carlo represented Reese in his absence on Monday, saying she has spoken with Reese and his family and that “he is waiving his right to appear” and that she has concerns about Reese’s mental health and physical health.

Reese has been charged with murder on allegations he shot and killed a civilian, 56-year-old Robert Powell Jr., during the early hours of the standoff on May 10. The standoff ended about 5 p.m. May 11 with Reese surrendering peacefully.

The standoff began about 6:20 a.m. May 10 when a U.S. Marshals regional task force came under fire upon entering Reese’s house on the 300 block of Centre Street. The officers were attempting to arrest Reese that morning because he had previously failed to appear in court regarding a Megan’s Law violation. Reese is a convicted sex offender who must register his status with the proper law-enforcement authorities.

Law enforcement officers at the scene of a standoff on Centre Street in Trenton that ended Thursday, May 11, 2017, after 35 hours with suspect Tyleeb Reese surrendering. (John Berry - The Trentonian)

Law enforcement officers at the scene of a standoff on Centre Street in Trenton that ended Thursday, May 11, 2017, after 35 hours with suspect Tyleeb Reese surrendering. (John Berry - The Trentonian)

In the deadly standoff, Reese barricaded himself inside his home and is accused of firing at police in a gunfight that killed Powell and left three Mercer County Sheriff’s officers wounded with non-life-threatening injuries. In addition to murder, Reese has also been charged with the attempted murder of five law enforcement officials, weapons offenses and five counts of aggravated assault with the intent to cause serious bodily injury.

Robert Powell Jr. (right)

Robert Powell Jr. (right)

Carlo on Monday entered a not guilty plea on Reese’s behalf and consented to the state’s detention motion. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion seeking to detain Reese at the county jail without bail for up to two years while his murder case plays out in the courts.

With Reese’s attorney consenting to the detention motion, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw signed the detention order and scheduled Reese’s pre-indictment conference for June 19.

“We have concerns not only about his mental health but his physical health,” Carlo said about Reese at Monday’s hasty detention hearing. “Mr. Reese was in the hospital for a few days and then taken back right after he was released. After meeting with him, again not only by myself but with my investigator and also meeting with his family, I think for the purposes of his health it is best to waive his appearance.”

Reese’s detention hearing was originally scheduled to be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday but was instead rushed ahead of schedule and held Monday morning about 9:20 a.m.

Carlo said she has represented Reese twice in the past and reiterated that she has “concerns about his current mental state, and again, that is tied in with his physical health as well.”

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