Attorneys for suspected Route 29 killers say ‘squealers’ are liars

An attorney for one of the Route 29 murder suspects played the old switcheroo in his closing argument to jurors Tuesday, pinning the crime on a man who admitted lifting the car used in the drive-by slay.

Andre Romero

Andre Romero

Defense attorney Patrick O’Hara said prosecutors didn’t have physical evidence showing his client Andre Romero was inside a stolen Chrysler Sebring on Jan. 30, 2012.

However, there was plenty of car thief Louis Alvarado’s DNA inside the car – a fingerprint on the outside of the vehicle and a cigarette butt with his saliva on it – that detectives simply “turned their backs” on.

“What links my client, for sure, with that car? There’s more evidence this guy was there,” O’Hara said, fingering his pen toward Alvarado’s name on an easel.Read more

Judge tosses charges against suspected Route 29 killers

Well, they didn’t know the car was stolen.

That’s the most that can be said at this point for William “Bill Bill” Mitchell and Andre Romero, the suspected Route 29 killers on trial for allegedly shooting 23-year-old Daquan Dowling to death while they motored down the highway in Trenton in January 2012.

Andre Romero

Andre Romero

A judge dismissed counts of receiving stolen property against each man, after prosecutors conceded there was not enough evidence that they knew they were rolling around in a stolen Chrysler Sebring the day of the Jan. 30, 2012 murder.

The car was lifted outside a troubled Trenton bar by a man named Louis Alvarado, who later pleaded guilty to as much. He turned over the keys to Anthony Marks, one of four men originally charged with the murder of Dowling.Read more

Defense attorney to getaway driver: ‘You didn’t hit the brake’

Getaway driver Anthony Marks said Thursday at the murder trial of two friends that he warned one of the suspected killers not to pull the trigger as they drove down the highway in the capital city four years ago.

Murder victim Daquan Dowling

Murder victim Daquan Dowling

Marks said that when best friend William “Bill Bill” Mitchell announced to the car he planned to light up a white Ford Taurus carrying a rival along Route 29, Marks responded: “No don’t do it. Not right here.”

Mitchell did it anyway, Marks said, after his co-defendant, Andre Romero, opened fire first that fateful day in January 2012.

Twenty-three-year-old Daquan Dowling was struck in the head in a hail of bullets, while the suspected killers gunned for his passenger, Morris Satchel.Read more

Convicted killer mulls 25 years in another Trenton slaying

A reputed Bloods gangster who is already serving an 18-year sentence for executing an ex-con who was ready to testify against another gangster could spent another quarter century behind bars if he accepts the rap killing another city man.

Mayleek McInnis

Mayleek McInnis

Mayleek McInnis is imprisoned for the aggravated manslaughter of fellow gangster Shawn Travis, who was shot in the head on April Fools’ Day in 2008.

Now prosecutors want him to spend 25 years in prison for the 2005 shooting death of Omar Murphy, who was gunned down near the intersection of Stuyvesant and Ellsworth avenues

Two years ago, prosecutors said witnesses had stepped forward and pegged McInnis as the killer.Read more

Attorneys for suspected Route 29 killers play blame game

Unfurling their blame-shifting strategy, attorneys for two city men accused of killing another man during a Route 29 drive-by shooting four years ago asked a retired Trenton Police detective about boundless possibilities, suggesting cops overlooked other more likely suspects.

In his classic cynical style, patented and perfected over his more than two decades in law enforcement, a nonplussed Gary Britton conceded little when he testified Thursday, sometimes belittling attorneys with remarks as condescending as the questions they asked.

For example, he quipped he couldn’t answer an inquiry from the attorney for suspected killer Andre Romero because he wasn’t a smoker.

The retired Trenton Police detective, who spent 24 years on the force and loosely dubbed parts of his job as “victimology,” wasn’t buying the smoke-and-mirrors tactics employed by attorneys for Romero and William “Bill Bill” Mitchell, who is being tried alongside his co-defendant, as they looked to pin the crime on someone else.Read more

Admitted killer won’t take back guilty plea, to go forward with sentencing

Admitted killer Curtis Grier told a judge Wednesday he will not take back his guilty plea in the slaying of a city man after a “misunderstanding” between the judge and his defense attorney held up sentencing earlier this month.

Free on $300,000 bail, Grier pleaded guilty this year to a lesser count of reckless manslaughter, for fatally shooting 24-year-old Jahmir Hall, under a plea deal that exposed him to a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Curtis Grier

Curtis Grier

Hall was gunned down in Trenton in April 2014.

Grier’s codefendant, Daniel McCargo, pleaded guilty to a gun charge and was sentenced last month to seven years in prison.

Charged with murder as an accomplice, McCargo admitted being armed with a handgun the night Hall was shot to death, but ballistics revealed it wasn’t the handgun used in the shooting death.

Grier had been charged with murder in Hall’s slaying but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and was supposed to be sentenced earlier this month. But it was pushed back because of apparent confusion about the terms of Grier’s plea deal. Read more

Attorneys for Trenton man convicted in cop son’s death ask to toss ‘inconsistent verdicts’

A judge who was “flying blind” in a conspiracy-murder trial crashed the plane, a defense attorney said.

And a Trenton man’s right to a fair trial perished when a jury, confused about how to reconcile competing legal issues, “compromised” by reaching “inconsistent” verdicts in August, according to court papers.

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

On the one hand, the jury convicted Raheem Currie of aggravated manslaughter and a gun conspiracy while acquitting him of murder and a gun conspiracy in the shooting death of James Austin, a father to twin daughters and the son of a retired city cop.

“This is legally impossible,” Furlong & Krasny associate Andrew Ferencevych wrote in court papers. “The jury concluded [Robert] Bartley and Currie did not conspire together to use the weapon for an unlawful purpose. If, according to the jury, Bartley and Currie did not share a purpose to use the weapon unlawfully against a person or property, how could Currie be guilty of aggravated manslaughter?”Read more

Troubled gang member fingers disabled Trenton man for murder

A disabled Trenton man who took special education classes throughout high school and whose IQ is far below average is viewed by prosecutors as a “lying murderer,” his defense attorney said.

And now a real gangster who may be a “professional cooperator,” having ratted on other Trenton men for murder and attempted murder, has pointed the finger at Robert Smith for the drive-by killing of Sidique Richardson-Howlen.

The state-approved snitch and apparent member of the 793 Bloods, Hector Maldonado, has his own problems. He was one of several members indicted in a massive racketeering case leveled against the violent street gang.Read more

Trenton killer accepts two-for-one plea

Prosecutors must be throwing a fall blowout sale after a Trenton man essentially paid for one crime and got another free in murder and attempted murder cases.

Dashawn Bethea admitted Thursday to aggravated manslaughter and aggravated assault in two violent cases in Trenton and will spend less than two decades behind bars under terms of his deal with prosecutors.

He fired a .40 caliber handgun into a crowd on the 400 block of Stuyvesant Avenue on June 9, 2013 while walking with his father, Charles Boston, back from a nearby store.Read more

DAG heard shuffling behind city museum after Route 29 murder

Former Deputy Attorney General Ellen Balint testified Wednesday in the murder trial of two city men that while she was walking from the Hughes Justice Complex toward her car after getting out of work on the evening of Jan. 30, 2012 she was startled by the cackle of gunfire and screeching tires.

Murder victim Daquan Dowling

Murder victim Daquan Dowling

She didn’t know it at the time, but 23-year-old Daquan Dowling had just been shot in the head as he and a friend motored northbound in the slow lane of Route 29, in a callous drive-by execution that shut down the busy highway for hours, prosecutors said.

Dowling slumped over the car console, his bloodied head landing in the lap of his shell-shocked passenger.

Prosecutors showed photos of the blood-soaked interior of Dowling’s Ford Taurus. And a supervising sergeant from the Trenton Police department held up for jurors to inspect the apparent blood-spattered shirt and sweater of Dowling’s friend, who was riding shotgun when the horror unfolded.Read more