Co-defendant in Trenton murder case reaches generous plea deal: 3 years for assault
A co-defendant charged with murdering 19-year-old Lance Beckett has confessed to aggravated assault in a deal that recommends he serve three years behind bars.
Omar Kennedy, 36, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to an accusation charging him with third-degree aggravated assault, effectively bringing final resolution to the homicide case.
The person most responsible for Beckett’s violent death is convicted murderer Mada Eoff, 18, who was found guilty Jan. 25 in a trial by jury.
Beckett got shot and killed during the afternoon of Sept. 18, 2016, with Trenton Police arriving on the scene about 2:50 p.m. and finding his dead body lying in the grass along East Stuyvesant Avenue in the capital city.
Another co-defendant in the case, 19-year-old Quashawn Emanuel, pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless manslaughter and testified against Eoff at trial. He said Eoff is the triggerman who shot and killed Beckett in cold blood.
Because Emanuel cooperated, the state will dismiss his weapons offenses and ask a judge to sentence him to eight years of incarceration under the No Early Release Act for reckless manslaughter. Emanuel did not pull the trigger but played a role in luring Beckett to the scene to get murdered.
Surveillance footage in the area shows Beckett and three other individuals interacting with one another minutes before the grisly murder, according to Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor Tim Ward. Prosecutors said the three culprits were co-defendants Eoff, Emanuel and Kennedy, all of whom have been indicted on murder charges and weapons offenses in connection with the homicide.
Count one in the indictment charged all three defendants with purposeful murder; count two charged the defendants with unlawful possession of a handgun without first having obtained a permit to carry; and count three charged the defendants with possession of a handgun with the purpose to use it unlawfully against the victim.
A jury found Eoff guilty of murdering Beckett but acquitted him on the weapons offenses. He was originally scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, but the hearing got postponed because his defense attorney Jessica Lyons needed to submit more procedural paperwork. A new sentencing date has not been rescheduled at this time, but Eoff is still looking at 30 years to life imprisonment when all is said and done.
Emanuel is scheduled to be sentenced 9 a.m. April 20 before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter Warshaw, and Kennedy is scheduled to be sentenced 9 a.m. April 27 before Warshaw.
Because Kennedy pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss his indictment and will recommend he get sentenced to three years of state imprisonment for his role in the September 2016 murder. Judges usually sentence defendants according to the terms of a plea deal.
Police arrested Eoff and Emanuel several days after Beckett got murdered and arrested Kennedy three weeks later. All three will likely be awarded with significant jail credit at sentencing, which means Kennedy could potentially serve a very short stint in state prison if Warshaw honors the plea agreement.