Urging dismissal, attorney for Newark gang member says third trial ‘destined’ for mistrial

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony  from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Shaheed Brown listens to testimony from State Police Detective Joseph Itri. Gregg Slaboda - The Trentonian

Convicting accused killer Shaheed Brown has become a family affair.

Meanwhile, the former Newark gang member continues to fight for his freedom in a case that has plagued Mercer County prosecutors who haven’t convinced juries in two trials six months apart that Brown gunned down 20-year-old Enrico Smalley Jr. outside a crime-ridden Trenton bar in 2014.

Brown’s attorney said in court papers a third trial is “destined” to end the same way.Read more

Convicted killer apologizes for fatal shooting of disabled man

Jaquan Dallas

Jaquan Dallas

It was the knock at the door no mother wants to hear.

Gloria Burke’s landlord stood outside, accompanied by two detectives.

The detectives showed Gloria a picture asked her if she recognized the man in the photo. She said it was her son.

They paused for what seemed like minutes.

“I’m so sorry, ma’am,” the detective said. “Your son was just murdered.”Read more

Admitted Trenton killer now says he didn’t do it

Grady Blue was done being told to shut up and take the deal.

Grady A. Blue III

Grady A. Blue III

In accepting a plea offer earlier this year, Blue III admitted gunning down 23-year-old Naquan Ellis as he was stood with a group of people outside of the North 25 housing complex in June 2014.

He was being sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter, for the shooting that claimed Ellis and injured another woman.

But Grady told the judge he wanted to take back his guilty plea. He accepted responsibility for a gun charge that called for a concurrent 7 years but not for the “body.”Read more

Trenton man killed city man in 2014 to save his own skin

Curtis Grier was a God-fearing city man who went to church every Sunday. His parents told a judge they raised him to respect the law and his elders. His father is a retired corrections officer and his family is tight with retired Trenton police officers.Curtis Grier

Yet in June 2014, two hours after his family friend clung to life after he was felled by three gunshots, Grier took matters into his own hands, a judge said Thursday at sentencing in Mercer County criminal court.

The judge agreed with Assistant Prosecutor William Fisher’s statement that Grier was a “vigilante.”

“Mr. Grier took it upon himself to arrange a reckoning,” Judge Peter Warshaw said, in handing down a 10-year sentence to the admitted killer. “The tragedy of this case is it didn’t have to occur.”Read more

Prosecutors name accused killer charged with shooting Trenton teen

A city teenager accused of killing 16-year-old Ciony Kirkman was quietly waived up as an adult last month to face murder charges in a random killing stemming from an apparent dispute over music disrespectful of a neighborhood gang.

Ciony Kirkman (contributed photo)

Ciony Kirkman (contributed photo)

Teenager Peter Charles Jr. has been charged with murder, six counts of aggravated assault and weapons offenses in connection with the April 24 slaying of Kirkman, who was shot in the head while inside a stolen van with six others minors.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said criminal complaints were filed in October against Charles, who was 17 years old at the time of the killing. He turned 18 in July.Read more

Convicted cop son’s killer gets 23 years

Luddie Austin thought about tracking down and killing the man who helped kill his son, James, in February 2013.

(left to right) Amanda Austin holding Jakalya, one of James Austin's twin daughters, Kim Bellamy, and Luddie Austin holding the other twin Janalya.

(left to right) Amanda Austin holding Jakalya, one of James Austin’s twin daughters, Kim Bellamy, and Luddie Austin holding the other twin Janalya.

On those days, when he contemplated taking out convicted killer Raheem Currie, the retired Trenton Police sergeant found solace in the people in his corner. Guys like Lester Ponder, a fellow veteran and close family friend.

It also helped that Luddie Austin remembered when his son was 12 years old, waiting deep for the kickoff during a youth football game for the Willingboro Panthers. They were playing the Trenton Tornadoes, and father and son made a little wager.Read more

Jury acquits one, hangs on other in Route 29 slay case

Andre “Ceto” Romero was a friend of Daquan Dowling, the man shot to death four years ago in a drive-by along a busy capital city highway.

As kids, they played at parks together. They went swimming. They ate together. They had sleepovers at Dowling’s mother’s home in Trenton.

Andre Romero

Andre Romero

“I raised that boy with my son,” said Saundra Dowling, Daquan’s mother. “In the beginning, I said ‘Ceto’ didn’t do it.”

In the end, the jury, after deliberating for roughly six hours, decided “Ceto” didn’t do it, either – a “disgusting” decision that caused Dowling’s relatives to lose faith in the jury system.

Dowling was struck in the head and killed instantly, on Jan. 30, 2012, as he drove along Route 29 in Trenton with passenger Morris Satchel.

“I know if they could get away with murder, I know I could,” said Samaijah Edwards, Dowling’s sister.Read more

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