Alleged killer Leroy Tutt goes to trial in murder of Trenton man, 19

Alleged killer Leroy Tutt has taken his Trenton murder case to trial.

Leroy Tutt

Leroy Tutt

Tutt, 31, of Trenton, sat poised in the courtroom Tuesday as his public defender painted him as an innocent man while the prosecution portrayed him as the shooter responsible for the death of 19-year-old Nabate Kalil Washington, also known as Nebate Anderson.

Tutt is accused of murdering Washington in broad daylight on June 30, 2017, an alleged act of retaliation fueled by a previous beef. 

Washington suffered fatal gunshot wounds about 1:50 p.m. in the first block of Sanford Street near his North Ward home, where police found him lying on the ground between two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities say Washington and Tutt had a previous beef. On April 26, 2017, Washington shot Tutt in the butt on the 600 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Washington became an at-large suspect weeks later when ballistics evidence connected him to the shooting, but cops could not find him prior to his violent death.

Nebate Washington

Nebate Washington

While at the murder scene, police detectives received phone calls from “concerned citizens who wished to remain anonymous” alleging that Tutt killed Washington in retaliation for the MLK shooting that occurred weeks earlier, according to the affidavit of probable cause signed by Trenton Police Detective Luis Vega Jr., a member of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force.

Tutt’s defense attorney Laura Yaede grilled Vega on the witness stand Tuesday, asking him questions about the investigation that exposed how Vega did not interview certain potential witnesses in the case prior to Tutt’s arrest on Aug. 5, 2017.

But one witness who Vega did speak with prior to Tutt’s arrest was Deshawn Sherman. In cross-examining Vega, Yaede pointed out how Sherman was “concerned” he might be charged in connection with Washington’s death, because word on the street suggested that Sherman supplied Tutt with the gun that was used in the murder.

Vega on the witness stand said he did not suspect Sherman had any involvement in the murder of Washington when he interviewed Sherman last July at the Mercer County Homicide Task Force offices.

Doris Galuchie, Mercer County’s first assistant prosecutor, also asked Vega whether he had any reason to believe Sherman was involved in the murder plot.

“No,” Vega said.

Galuchie also pointed out that Vega would not file charges against any defendant until after a “group decision” has been made with the input of a prosecutor and a superior officer.

Tutt’s speedy trial is taking place before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier.

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