Jury: Dante Alexander is a murderous gunman, William Mitchell is not
William Mitchell received delayed justice on Wednesday when a jury found him not guilty of murder while Dante Alexander was brought to justice on Wednesday as jurors unanimously convicted him of shooting and killing a Trenton man.
Mitchell, 29, of Trenton, smiled and held his head up high after a jury acquitted him on all charges.
“Yes, you coming home!” one of Mitchell’s loved ones said in the courtroom after 12 jurors unanimously cleared him of murder charges and weapons offenses.
“Free that innocent man!” another loved one shouted.
Indeed, Mitchell was slated to be released after Wednesday’s verdict. He was incarcerated on a high bail at the Mercer County Correction Center on allegations that accused him of shooting and killing 23-year-old Daquan Dowling during a Route 29 drive-by shooting in Trenton on Jan. 30, 2012.
The state initially tried Mitchell on murder charges last fall in a trial that ended in a hung jury. Seven months later, another jury of Mitchell’s peers exonerated him as the state failed to meet its burden of proof.
Defense attorney Mark Fury, who represented Mitchell in the murder retrial, said the state failed to win a conviction because “the facts just weren’t there” to support the charges. “I’m happy to do this job, and I take my job very seriously,” Fury told Trenton Homicide Watch after Wednesday’s verdict. “But just like in boxing where ‘styles make fights,’ in cases ‘facts make trials.’”
Fury pointed out the fact that Mitchell is the second defendant to be found not guilty of all charges in connection with Dowling’s violent death. A co-defendant in the case, 25-year-old Andre Romero, was found not guilty last October of all charges.
“Obviously we have to respect the jury’s verdict,” Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor James Scott told Trenton Homicide Watch on Wednesday. He said he disagrees with the jury’s verdict but reiterated that “you have to respect the jury’s verdict under the circumstances.”
Dowling was driving a white Ford Taurus on Route 29 northbound near the War Memorial in Trenton when perpetrators drove alongside him and fired a shot that struck him in the head, killing him instantly on Jan. 30, 2012. The crime scene was so large that police had to take aerial photos from a helicopter.
But the evidence that prosecutors presented at trial did not leave a jury firmly convinced that Mitchell was responsible for Dowling’s death. A New Jersey State Police trooper who testified in the retrial conceded that Mitchell’s fingerprints were not found anywhere inside the stolen vehicle that was used in the drive-by shooting.
No one has been convicted of killing Dowling, but co-defendant Anthony Marks, 28, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a handgun in 2015; co-defendant Jamar Square, 24, pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a handgun in 2013; and co-defendant Louis Alvardo, 26, pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property in 2014.
Trenton gunman Dante Alexander, 33, on Wednesday was convicted of shooting and killing 26-year-old Brandon Nance outside a city bakery in 2013. The jury was firmly convinced he murdered Nance in broad daylight on Aug. 29, 2013, in front of the Italian People’s Bakery on Butler Street.
The jury found Alexander guilty of murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose but found him not guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon. The conviction on the murder charge alone puts Alexander on track to receive a sentence ranging from 30 years to life in state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August.
“While we are disappointed in the verdict,” Alexander’s defense attorney Christopher T. Campbell said, “we are confident on appeal the court will reverse, because we were improperly denied a pretrial hearing to determine whether the jury should have seen the evidence that it did.”
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Tim Ward presented the jury with powerful evidence in Alexander’s murder trial, but Campbell says some of that evidence probably would not have been allowed in the trial if the court had previously conducting an evidentiary hearing pertaining to certain evidence that Campbell wanted to suppress.
Campbell after Wednesday’s verdict vowed to file a timely motion demanding a new trial for his client and said he will be prepared to appeal Alexander’s convictions to a higher court if the new trial is not granted.