5 plead guilty in Trenton Lyft rideshare murder case, 1 gets probation
A November 2016 armed robbery that ended with Lyft rideshare passenger Amber Dudley’s violent death has netted five guilty pleas and lopsided punishments.
The justice system went easy on co-defendant Dominique Richter, 33, of Hamilton, who received a non-custodial term of probation in the homicide case. She pleaded guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit theft and is serving five years on probation, authorities said.
An April 2017 indictment originally charged all five co-defendants with murder but each of them confessed their guilt in exchange for leniency.
The lone triggerman in the case, Ronderrick Manuel, 45, admits he shot and killed 27-year-old Dudley during the brazen robbery in Trenton’s North Ward. He pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated manslaughter in a deal that calls for 30 years of state imprisonment, according to the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Dudley, a Collingswood resident, suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest as a rideshare passenger caught in the middle of a grisly robbery-turned-homicide on Nov. 30, 2016. One of the masterminds behind the plot was Kasey DeZolt, 34, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, who is currently incarcerated at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
DeZolt pleaded guilty to first-degree accomplice liability robbery and had her felony murder and weapons offenses dismissed at the Dec. 7 sentencing hearing. She is serving an eight-year prison sentence and is scheduled to be released on Oct. 9, 2023, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Andrew Alston, 41, of Trenton, is currently incarcerated at the Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Ewing Township for his role in the scheme. He pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree aiding and abetting robbery and received a 16-year prison sentence. He is scheduled to be released from state prison on Aug. 30, 2030, according to the DOC.
Douglas W. Mathis, 54, of Trenton, is currently incarcerated at Mid-State Correctional Facility for his role in the deadly plot. Mercer County Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta sentenced him to seven years of incarceration earlier this month. Mathis pleaded guilty to second-degree accomplice liability robbery in the homicide case and was already serving time in the big house for receiving stolen property in an unrelated case. Mathis will be eligible for parole on March 22, 2023, according to the DOC.
On the evening of Nov. 30, 2016, a Lyft rideshare 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. Authorities eventually arrested five co-defendants in the murder case and detailed how it all originated as a cockamamie robbery scheme.
Manuel, a Trenton man with a known criminal history, is scheduled to be sentenced April 5, 2019, while the co-defendants in the case have already been punished for their roles in the deadly crime.
Alston actually received two punishments at his sentencing hearing Dec. 7. When authorities arrested Alston on Jan. 24, 2017, they found him in possession of a handgun. He pleaded guilty to certain persons not to have weapons in that case and received a seven-year prison sentence to be served concurrent to his 16-year prison sentence in the homicide case, according to the DOC.
Mathis has been incarcerated in state prison since February. A Camden County judge sentenced him to four years of incarceration on Feb. 16 for receiving stolen property in Collingswood on Jan. 13, 2015, according to court records. His four-year prison sentence in the Camden County case is being served concurrent to his seven-year prison term in the Trenton homicide case.
Although DeZolt pleaded guilty to a first-degree crime, she was sentenced with leniency in line with a second-degree sentencing range. The ordinary sentencing range for first-degree robbery is 10 to 20 years of incarceration, but Pereksta sentenced DeZolt to eight years subject to the No Early Release Act that requires she serve 85 percent of the term behind bars before she can become eligible for parole.