Tisheen Mack’s alleged killer gets released from jail with pretrial ankle monitor

Jihad Jenks

Jihad Jenks

A suspect has been arrested in connection with the July 23 shooting death of Tisheen Rasheen Mack and then was released from jail on electronically monitored home detention after a judge blasted the state’s handling of the case.

Jihad “Jay” Jenks, 23, of Ewing, has been charged with second-degree provoked manslaughter and weapons offenses on allegations he shot and killed 26-year-old Mack “in the heat of passion” on the 800 block of East State Street.

Mack had a gun on him on the night he was slain, according to police sources. Police charged Jenks on Aug. 2 but failed to justify the charges in an affidavit of probable cause — a mind-boggling omission that prompted Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw to denounce the state’s prosecutorial practices.

“The only place where this defendant’s name appears in this complaint is in the portion of the complaint that lists the name of the defendant. How do I find probable cause based upon an affidavit of probable cause which doesn’t even mention the defendant?” Warshaw said at Jenks’ Aug. 29 detention hearing. “This is completely and totally unacceptable.”

“This is a 23-year-old man with absolutely no prior record from what I can tell, and you are asking me to detain him today based on an affidavit of probable cause which doesn’t even mention him by name let alone give me any meaningful detail about what happened other than a recitation of the fact that the victim was shot,” Warshaw added. “That’s really all I can tell — and a reaffirmation of the ZIP code in Trenton. I don’t know where the idea that this is an acceptable showing of probable cause comes in and in terms of the reporting, I don’t even know where to start with that.”

Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Gasparian told Warshaw that neither the Mercer County Homicide Task Force nor the Trenton Police Department had completed an investigative report that would have explained Jenks’ alleged involvement in the slaying of Mack. She said the state, however, had a three-hour recorded statement from an eyewitness who saw the gun violence and invited Warshaw to watch the video.

“And because nobody in your office or the Trenton Police Department has written any sort of report, my only choice is to watch all of this stuff? …” Warshaw said. “This is absurd.”

The state initially wanted to keep Jenks locked up without bail at the Mercer County Correction Center. The state filed its motion requesting pretrial detention on Aug. 5, but the detention hearing was delayed several times before finally being held Aug. 29 after Jenks hired private defense attorney John “Jack” Furlong.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that there is not a police report … four weeks after the complaint was signed,” Warshaw said. “I don’t want to hear about they are still working (on it).”

Furlong at the Aug. 29 detention hearing said he hoped the state would have provided him with more discovery evidence.

“It’s now six weeks post shooting, and there are no police reports,” Furlong said. “I was given a series of DVDs, the bulk of which appear to be CCTV (surveillance video) from the street. The state has represented to me that in those DVDs my client is seen entering or leaving a house on the street where the shooting occurred. … Candidly, I looked at those DVDs. I did not find anything revealing on that fact, but I don’t dispute that that is the state’s view of the situation.”

Gasparian said the state was pursuing pretrial detention on the grounds that Jenks would be at high risk of failing to appear in court and that Jenks would present a high-risk threat of danger to the community at large, but she could not overcome the liability of being sent to argue for detention against a defendant who was not linked to the crime scene under the affidavit of probable cause.

After Warshaw heavily criticized the state’s handling of the case, Furlong requested an off-the-record private conference with the judge and assistant prosecutor. The attorneys and judge went behind closed doors in the jury room for about 100 minutes — nearly two hours — and came back in the courtroom with the state announcing a sudden about-face.

“The state is going to be withdrawing its motion for detention and, upon agreement with the defense, is asking that Mr. Jenks be placed on electronic monitoring and home detention,” Gasparian said. “Mr. Jenks has no prior criminal history.”

With the state and defense attorney consenting to electronically monitored home detention, Warshaw signed the order and added additional conditions of release.

Jenks is confined to home detention at his grandfather’s house on the 1600 block of 12th Street in Ewing and must refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device or other dangerous weapon and must refrain from excessive use of alcohol or any use of narcotics, drugs or other controlled substance without a prescription by a licensed medical practitioner.

Jenks also must not commit any new offenses during his pretrial release and must avoid any and all contact with James Diggs Jr., the eyewitness who saw Tisheen Mack get gunned down.

Tisheen Rasheen Mack (pictured) was shot and killed in Trenton July 23, 2017. (Facebook photo)

Tisheen Rasheen Mack (pictured) was shot and killed in Trenton July 23, 2017. (Facebook photo)

The three-hour statement that the eyewitness gave to police does not implicate Jenks in the July 23 homicide, according to Furlong, who said, “My client denies any knowledge of the crime.”

“The whole thing is a mystery to me and candidly I think the whole thing is a mystery to police, but they wanted to make an arrest and they did,” Furlong told The Trentonian on Tuesday. “Jihad was nowhere near the crime scene if there was a crime scene.”

Police sources say the slain Mack had a gun on him, which was found while medical personnel stabilized him at the scene. Mack was later pronounced dead at the hospital. He suffered numerous gunshot wounds.

The affidavit of probable cause had no substantive information in it, but it is possible that Mack may have engaged or attempted to engage his killer in a gunfight.

The circumstances surrounding Mack’s death seem comparable to the circumstances surrounding the 2015 shooting death of 19-year-old Elvin Kimble.

The slain Kimble was reportedly wearing a ski mask and still had a gun in his hand when police found him slumped over near a van on the 700 block of Division Street on Nov. 24, 2015.

Two defendants in the Kimble slaying were originally arrested on heavy murder charges, but Gary Spears, 35, of Trenton, ended up pleading guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter and has been sentenced to 10 years of incarceration while co-defendant Jermaine Johnson, 41, of Ewing, pleaded guilty to third-degree hindering prosecution and has been sentenced to five years behind bars.

In the Mack slaying, Jenks has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit for the Trenton homicide that occurred July 23.

Police charged Jenks under a peculiar statute known as 2C:11-4B (2), which defines provoked manslaughter as being a case where “a homicide which would otherwise be murder … is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.”

If Mack was armed with a gun, whoever gunned him down could have been under reasonable provocation.

“I don’t have any additional statements beyond what was said in court,” a Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman said Tuesday when asked why Jenks was charged with second-degree provoked manslaughter rather than first-degree murder and why prosecutors consented to Jenks being placed on electronically monitored home detention after initially pursuing pretrial detention.

Records show Jenks was committed to the Mercer County Correction Center on Aug. 4 and discharged Aug. 30 on his own recognizance with conditions that include electronically monitored home detention.

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