Trenton Lyft rideshare killer admits to slaying Amber Dudley, 2 more co-defendants confess
Three of the five people charged in connection with the grisly November 2016 murder of Lyft rideshare passenger Amber Dudley have pleaded guilty.
The triggerman in the case, Ronderrick Manuel, 44, of Trenton, admits he shot and killed 27-year-old Dudley during a robbery in Trenton’s North Ward. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree aggravated manslaughter in a deal that calls for him to cooperate with the state and serve 30 years of prison time, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Co-defendant Andrew Alston, 40, of Trenton, who was originally charged with accomplice liability murder, pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree robbery and weapons offenses in a deal that calls for him to cooperate with the state and serve 16 years behind bars, the prosecutor’s office confirmed Wednesday via email.
As previously reported first by The Trentonian, co-defendant Dominique Richter, 32, of Hamilton, who was originally facing a possible 30 years to life in prison on accomplice liability murder charges, pleaded guilty last year to third-degree conspiracy to commit theft. Richter has been released from jail on her own recognizance since Sept. 11, 2017, and must cooperate with the state in the case. Her plea deal calls for her to receive a five-year prison sentence, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The remaining defendants in the case are Kasey DeZolt, 33, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, and Douglas Mathis, 53, of Trenton. Both of them are maintaining their innocence as of Wednesday but could potentially reach a plea bargain if they decide against taking their case to trial.
DeZolt remains jailed on $500,000 cash bail on accomplice liability murder and robbery charges. She is scheduled for a March 5 pretrial conference before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta and is represented by public defender Amber Forrester.
Mathis remains in jail on pretrial detention on accomplice liability murder charges and is also scheduled to appear for a March 5 pretrial conference before Pereksta. He is represented by defense attorney Steven Lember.
Dudley, a Collingswood resident, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest as a rideshare passenger caught in the middle of a grisly robbery-turned-homicide plot. Richter admits she was involved in the conspiracy to lure a Lyft rideshare vehicle into the capital city for the purposes of promoting a theft scheme. Prosecutors say DeZolt also played a role in luring the occupants of the rideshare vehicle into Trenton.
On the evening of Nov. 30, 2016, a Lyft vehicle arrived in the area of Mechanics and East Trenton avenues and was confronted by Manuel, who attempted to rob a male passenger at gunpoint. Manuel’s weapon discharged during the confrontation, wounding Dudley with lethal injuries that eventually led to her death, prosecutors said.
Mathis is accused of transporting Manuel to the scene of the homicide. Alston admits to being armed and dangerous and playing a role in the robbery scheme that led to Dudley’s violent death.
The homicide victim’s younger sister, Brittney Dudley, said her family was “devastated by this loss” in a GoFundMe campaign. The family was lacking funds for Amber Dudley’s funeral and ended up raising $3,125 in a GoFundMe call for help, exceeding the initial $2,000 goal.
Several weeks after the slaying, police in December 2016 arrested Richter and DeZolt on accomplice liability murder charges. Police arrested Alston in January 2017; a regional U.S. Marshals task force arrested Manuel in March 2017; and Mathis got placed on pretrial detention not long after a grand jury handed up an indictment in April 2017 that charged all five co-defendants in connection with the shooting death of Dudley.
Mathis, Alston and Manuel all remain jailed without bail on pretrial detention. Alston is represented by defense attorney Stephen Slaven and is scheduled to be sentenced March 9. Manuel is represented by defense attorney Mark G. Davis and is also scheduled to be sentenced on March 9 before Pereksta.
Richter is the only co-defendant in the case who has been freed from jail pending sentencing. She is represented by private defense attorney Raymond C. Staub and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 23, although her sentencing date could once again get postponed.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Grillo negotiated the plea agreements with Richter, Alston and Manuel. The plea agreements require Richter, Alston and Manuel to cooperate with the state, which means they could potentially each be called to testify against DeZolt or Mathis if DeZolt or Mathis takes the case to trial.