Trenton murder trial ends in hung jury

Leroy Tutt

Leroy Tutt

Leroy Tutt’s murder trial ended this week without resolution.

A hung jury could not decide whether Tutt was guilty or not guilty of shooting and killing 19-year-old Nabate Kalil Washington, also known as Nebate Anderson, in a broad daylight shooting last summer.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier on Wednesday declared a mistrial due to the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

The state intends to retry the case, according to a Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman. 

Tutt, 31, of Trenton, is accused of murdering Washington in retaliation for a previous incident. Washington shot Tutt in the butt on April 26, 2017, prompting Tutt to take revenge several weeks later, authorities alleged.

Nabate Washington

Nabate Washington

Washington suffered fatal gunshot wounds about 1:50 p.m. June 30, 2017, on the first block of Sanford Street near his home in Trenton’s North Ward, where police found him lying on the ground between two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tutt got arrested Aug. 5, 2017, and was eventually indicted on one count of first-degree purposeful murder, one count of second-degree possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit and one count of second-degree certain persons not to have a weapon due to a prior conviction involving violent crime or drug distribution. Tutt previously served time in state prison for convictions involving heroin distribution, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes, according to court records.

Tutt remains jailed without bail on pretrial detention. It could take several months before a murder retrial is held.

To win a conviction, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tutt knowingly possessed a handgun and purposely used it to murder Washington. Tutt is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Public defender Laura Yaede, Tutt’s defense attorney, questioned Trenton Police Detective Luis Vega Jr. in trial cross-examination that may have introduced reasonable doubt into the mind of at least one jury member.

Vega, a member of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force, did not interview certain potential witnesses in the case prior to Tutt’s arrest but did question Deshawn Sherman, who said he 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.

Authorities never charged Sherman in connection with the homicide, and Vega said he had no reason to believe Sherman was involved in the murder plot.

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