Trenton man gets life imprisonment for murdering Chevin Burgess and torching victim’s body

Convicted murderer Calier Samad is serving a life sentence at Trenton’s state prison while a co-defendant in the case has received a significantly less severe punishment.

Calier Samad

Calier Samad

Samad, 31, of Trenton, was sentenced last month to 75 years of incarceration for murdering 22-year-old Chevin Burgess during the commission of a 2014 armed robbery and setting the victim’s body on fire in a vicious post-murder plot.

Life imprisonment is defined as 75 years of incarceration under New Jersey state law.

The co-defendant in the case, Joeryan Foreman, 26, of Trenton, pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated arson and received eight years of incarceration for his role in the heinous crime, court records show. 

On the evening of Jan. 4, 2014, city firefighters found Burgess dead inside a burning car on the 100 block of Hart Avenue in Trenton. A medical examiner later determined that Burgess had died from a homicidal gunshot wound.

Authorities in April 2014 arrested Samad and Foreman and charged them both with murder. Foreman pleaded guilty last year to aggravated arson while Samad took his case to trial and lost on most counts.

Joeryan Foreman

Joeryan Foreman

On Dec. 13, 2018, a trial jury convicted Samad of first-degree felony murder during the commission of a crime, first-degree armed robbery, second-degree possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes and second-degree aggravated arson. The jury found him not guilty of first-degree purposeful murder and not guilty of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, but those acquittals did not offset the weight of his convictions.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta hammered Samad with life imprisonment at a Feb. 22 sentencing hearing.

Samad’s life sentence is broken down as follows: He must serve 65 years in the slammer for his murder conviction to be followed by 10 years of additional incarceration for torching the vehicle with the murder victim’s dead body inside. The sentence is subjected to the No Early Release Act, which means he must serve at least 85 percent of the term behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Samad is locked up at New Jersey State Prison and will be eligible for parole in May 2080, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections. If he survives his long prison stint, he will immediately be subjected to eight years of parole supervision upon his release from the big house.

The convicted murderer has one prior upper court conviction in New Jersey, for he previously served time in state prison for committing an April 2009 burglary in Ewing Township. Samad also has two out-of-state convictions from Pennsylvania. Furthermore, he has six municipal court convictions in the Garden State. The judge took that into account in rendering a punishment, according to Pereksta’s judgment of conviction.

“In sentencing this defendant, the Court considered the nature and degree of the crime, the need for punishment and deterrence, the defendant’s prospects for rehabilitation, the pre-sentence report, the defendant’s previous involvement in the criminal justice system, the recommendations of the prosecutor, defense counsel’s arguments at sentencing and the interest of the public,” Pereksta said in her judgment of conviction. “The Court is clearly convinced the aggravating factors substantially outweigh and preponderate over the nonexistent mitigating factors and imposes the sentence and awards jail credits as stated on this JOC in the interest of justice.”

Samad received 930 days of jail credit, effectively reducing his prison sentence by that amount. Unless he wins an appeal or receives a gubernatorial pardon or commutation, Samad is looking at six full decades of incarceration and won’t be eligible for parole until May 2080 at the age of 92.

Foreman, by comparison, only has to spend about three years in prison thanks to the lenient terms of his sentence. Foreman has been awarded 1,784 days of jail credit for being in custody from April 12, 2014, to Feb. 28, 2019, effectively reducing his prison sentence by that amount.

Pereksta sentenced Foreman on March 1 to eight years of incarceration subject to the No Early Release Act. He pleaded guilty in the case to second-degree aggravated arson and had the other counts — murder during the commission of a crime, armed robbery, possession of a firearm for unlawful purposes and unlawful possession of a handgun — all dismissed at his sentencing hearing, court records show.

Burgess was shot and killed during the course of a robbery. Prosecutors say Samad shot Burgess in the head and that the body was then driven to Hart Avenue, doused with gasoline and set on fire. Foreman admits he aided Samad in the violent crime, so the jury may have considered that as a factor in finding Samad not guilty on some of the counts in the indictment.

The judge found that Foreman “acted under a strong provocation” in committing the crime and credited Foreman for his willingness to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. Foreman’s guilty plea no doubt helped Mercer County Assistant Prosecutor James Scott win convictions against Samad in the trial by jury.

Foreman received eight years of prison time minus 1,784 days of jail credit because of his guilty plea and his lack of prior convictions, unlike Samad, who received life imprisonment because of his murder and aggravated arson convictions in addition to his prior criminal history.

This case represents Foreman’s first upper court conviction. He had four municipal court matters pending and four bench warrants, according to court records. He will be subjected to three years of parole supervision upon being released from state prison in a few years.

Samad was represented by defense attorney Andrew Duclair, and Foreman was represented by defense attorney Steven C. Lember. Both defendants have been ordered to provide a DNA sample and ordered to pay the costs for testing of the sample provided.

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