Alleged killer Isiah Greene gets convicted on gun charge at third Trenton murder trial

Isiah Greene

Isiah Greene

Alleged killer Isiah Greene has been convicted of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm but a jury for the third time still could not reach a verdict on whether or not he murdered 24-year-old city man Quaadir “Ace” Gurley.

The jury issued the partial verdict last Thursday, getting hung on two counts — murder and possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose — but unanimously finding Greene guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm without a permit, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Greene, 24, is accused of shooting and killing Gurley in the early morning hours of July 21, 2013. The incident occurred at Trenton’s Donnelly Homes housing complex. Gurley, a father of six, suffered numerous gunshot wounds and died from his injuries. 

Mark Fury, the defense attorney who represents Greene, said he intends to file a motion asking the court to dismiss the unresolved counts in the indictment. “I fully expect the most serious charges will be dismissed by motion,” he said Friday in an interview. “The point of the matter is the state has had three bites at the apple and failed each time to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that Greene is guilty of murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

The state previously tried Greene on murder charges in January 2017 and October 2015 in criminal trials that ended in hung juries on all counts in the indictment. The difference in the third trial is that the jury this month reached a partial verdict, finding Greene guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon.

“What I take it to mean,” Fury said of the partial verdict, “Mr. Greene was present at the scene, but they couldn’t agree as to whether or not he contributed to Mr. Gurley’s death.”

Quaadir Gurley (center) with two of his six children. (Contributed Photo)

Quaadir Gurley (center) with two of his six children. (Contributed Photo)

Prosecutors had circumstantial evidence — including DNA test results — that linked Greene to the murder scene. One eyewitness, Lalisa Thompson, testified to seeing a dark-skinned man wearing a white tank top and armed with what she believed to be a handgun. She said she did not actually see the gunman firing any shots.

The physical description the eyewitness gave of the suspected gunman “doesn’t fit Mr.  Greene,” Fury said. Greene would generally be considered a light-skinned black male, not dark-skinned.

Greene suffered a gunshot wound to the foot during the shooting that killed Gurley. Greene at the time called 9-1-1 and falsely reported he was shot on Sanhican Drive. Greene eventually testified in his own defense at trial, saying he had lied to the cops about where he was shot to avoid being called as a witness in the shooting that killed Gurley.

Prosecutors said Greene fired 10 shots and that one of the shots accidentally struck himself in the foot and that eight intentionally struck Gurley in the body.

If the Superior Court dismisses the unresolved charges in the case, Greene will still get sentenced to state imprisonment for being convicted on a second-degree weapons offense.

A conviction on a second-degree crime can result in a minimum sentence of five years’ incarceration and a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars, but Fury said his client is not looking at much prison time when factoring in jail credit and Greene’s lack of a prior criminal history.

Greene has been in jail on high monetary bail since members of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force arrested him Nov. 18, 2013. Fury said his client cannot be sentenced to the maximum 10 years of incarceration.

“What he got convicted of, possession of a weapon, is his first conviction of any kind,” Fury said, “so there are no aggravating factors to go to the maximum sentences.”

With Greene having over four years of jail credit, he would serve very little time in state prison if he gets sentenced to the minimum of five years’ imprisonment.

Murder cases

The partial verdict in State v. Isiah Greene is similar to the partial verdict that came down in State v. Masiyah Howard.

A jury on May 9, 2017, found Masiyah “Chicken” Howard guilty of unlawful possession of a handgun but was hung on the counts of murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The jury was firmly convinced that Howard unlawfully possessed a firearm, but the 12 jurors could not unanimously agree on whether Howard was the gunman who had shot 25-year-old Louis Bryan Alvarez to death with a fatal bullet to the chest.

The state declined to retry Howard on murder charges and disregarded the jury’s partial verdict. He ended up serving less than one year in state prison because he had four-plus years of jail credit and got sentenced to five years of incarceration in an unrelated armed robbery case.

Lots of defendants over the last two years have pleaded guilty in Trenton homicide cases, but there are some recent cases where the state lost at trial. For example, a jury last February found Zaire Jackson not guilty of murdering 22-year-old Irvin “Swirv” Jackson, and juries in the last two years found defendants William Mitchell and Andre Romero not guilty of murdering 23-year-old Daquan Dowling.

But the state has also won multiple murder convictions in the last two years:

  •  A jury on Jan. 25 found Mada Eoff, 18, to be fully responsible for the murder of 19-year-old Lance Beckett.
  • A jury last July found Randy K. Washington guilty of murdering 64-year-old Silas Johnson, and he ultimately received 70 years of incarceration.
  • A jury last June found Danuweli Keller guilty of murdering U.S. Army veteran Dardar Paye execution style, and he ended up receiving a 61-year prison sentence.
  • A jury last May found Dante Alexander guilty of murdering 26-year-old Brandon Nance, and he consequently received a 50-year prison sentence.

Greene is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday for a status conference on his murder case. The judge will likely schedule a sentencing date at that conference hearing.

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