Guilty confessions abound in Trenton Lyft rideshare murder case

Douglas Mathis saw the writing on the wall.

When several co-defendants pleaded guilty in the November 2016 murder of Lyft rideshare passenger Amber Dudley, Mathis realized his best course of action was to confess his role in the plot.

(From left) Douglas Mathis, Ronderrick Manuel, Andrew Alston, Kasey DeZolt and Dominique Richter

(From left) Douglas Mathis, Ronderrick Manuel, Andrew Alston, Kasey DeZolt and Dominique Richter

Mathis, 53, of Trenton, pleaded guilty last Friday to one count of second-degree robbery in a deal that calls for him to cooperate with the state and receive seven years of prison time subject to the No Early Release Act, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. His accomplice liability murder charges will be dismissed when he is sentenced later this year. 

A grand jury handed up an indictment on April 12, 2017, charging Mathis and four co-defendants with murder in connection with the slaying of Dudley.

The 27-year-old 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.

Amber Dudley

Amber Dudley

Ronderrick Manuel, 44, of Trenton, admits he shot and killed Dudley and has pleaded guilty 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, pleaded guilty last month 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, according to the prosecutor’s office.

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 co-defendant in the case is Kasey DeZolt, 33, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, who maintains her innocence but could potentially reach a plea bargain if she decides against taking her case to trial. The four co-defendants who’ve pleaded guilty in the case could potentially testify against DeZolt, and she faces 30 years to life imprisonment if convicted on her heaviest charges.

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.

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 admits he transported 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 arrested April 10, 2017, according to court records.

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.

Mathis is represented by defense attorney Steven Lember, who had advised his client to take the plea deal once the guilty pleas of the other co-defendants started piling up.

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