Suspected accomplice nears deal in murder of Trenton graffiti artist

A suspected accomplice in the 2013 murder of a Trenton graffiti artist is close to reaching a deal with prosecutors.

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan Clemens

Zihqwan “Woodiey” Clemens, who was charged as an accomplice to the murder of Andre Corbett after he allegedly acted as another man’s wheelman, could reach an agreement with prosecutors as early as this month, officials said Tuesday at a status hearing.

The plea deal is expected to package together the murder case and a probation violation from a drug conviction for which Clemens had received five years at the beginning of the year.Read more

Trenton gang member may have an alibi for a cold-case killing

A Trenton gang member may have an alibi for a cold-case killing authorities thought they solved.

Notorious crime figure Ronald Smith, a reputed member of the Gangster Killer Bloods who was netted years ago in a big drug bust, may have been on an ankle bracelet that will show he was nowhere near 27-year-old Kevin Thomas when he was gunned down in September 2006, at a street light on the corner of East State and Chambers streets, his attorney said Monday.

Ronald C. Smith

Ronald C. Smith

Thomas was a passenger in a vehicle when a gunman in a dark-colored SUV pulled alongside him and opened fire, killing him and wounding a passenger.

Witnesses came forward pegging Smith as the gunman, but prosecutors have not disclosed a motive in the murder.

Defense attorney Mark Fury said he has identified Smith’s probation officer from 2006, and he is in the process of tracking down crucial alibi information that may ultimately exonerate his client.Read more

Attorney for accused Trenton man suggest cops misidentified killer

A wailing woman denounced a Trenton man accused of shooting a Philadelphia man to death on Halloween in 2014.

Donte Jones

Donte Jones

The woman, who identified herself as the sister of slain 36-year-old Levonza Thompson, shouted as she walked out of court Monday that she knows accused killer Donte Jones fatally shot her brother.

“That b–- killed my brother, man,” she said, wiping tears from her eyes. “We keep coming her for nothing.”

Police have said Thompson was shot multiple times after he and Jones struggled. Jones was found at a home on the first block of Laurel Place, hiding under a pile of clothes in a third-floor attic, prosecutors said.Read more

Trenton man gets 38 years, says nothing to families of slain teens

Alton Jones, the notorious half-brother of the Skillman twins, was bent on settling a score. But he missed his target twice, instead killing two innocent bystanders in a span of three days on the streets of Trenton, prosecutors said.

His actions “literally broke” a mother’s heart – she died a year after her daughter, whom family affectionately dubbed the “snack baby” because of her affinity for sweets, was fatally shot in the stomach behind the Rowan Towers on West State Street in Trenton.

Alton Jones

Alton Jones

Jones was sent to prison Friday for 38 years – 32 which he must serve before he could be paroled – for killing victims Rayshawn Ransom and Tierra Green, both 19, days apart in June 2013.

Jones – who fled to New Haven, Conn., and was arrested after a police standoff – pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal with prosecutors earlier this year to two counts of aggravated manslaughter.

He sat blankly and coldly while listening as the victims’ families gave tear-filled tributes to their loved ones.Read more

Trenton men get life for murder of Mercer corrections officer

Former Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie had a “heart as big as this world” and the swagger of a GQ model, his colleagues and family members said.

Elaine Batie, Carl’s mother, daubed her eyes while remembering the moment her second-oldest son was placed into her arms on March 3, 1985. She smiled so much her “cheeks began to hurt.”

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

That smile disappeared Nov 11, 2012, when Batie was shot in the head while celebrating the re-election of President Barack Obama with his brother, Karshawn, at a Trenton banquet hall.

“That smile I had on my face for 27 years became a frown,” Elaine Batie said. “Every day I think he’s coming home through the front door from a long day at work.”

Before a packed courtroom Friday in Mercer County criminal court, a judge handed life sentences to two city men for their roles in taking Batie’s life.Read more

Trenton man denies killing friend over drug debt

A city man who may have shot another man to death over a drug debt denies being involved in his friend’s death.

But Assistant Prosecutor Tim Ward said at a bail hearing Monday morning that at least one witness identified 37-year-old Alberto Perez, who has been charged with murder and weapons offenses, as the man behind the fatal Aug. 5 shooting of Jonathan Jimenez.

Alberto Perez

Alberto Perez

Jimenez was shot in the chest and found in the street on the first block of Cummings Avenue.

A judge maintained Perez’s bail at $750,000 after hearing from prosecutors, who said a witness told police that after the shooting, Perez fled in a Honda Civic that was later located a few blocks away from the slaying.

Perez lived a short distance away from the murder, on Anderson Street.Read more

Man found guilty for role in death of Trenton cop’s son

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

TRENTON >> When the jury forewoman said “not guilty,” to one of the conspiracy charges, Luddie Austin’s heart dropped. He shook his head in disbelief. 

A sense of despair eased over him as he contemplated that there would be no “Justice for James,” his son who was shot to death when a “silly, silly” dispute over car windshields turned violent in Trenton in February 2013.

“I thought everything was over,” the retired Trenton sergeant said. “It was confusing.”

Read more

Defense attorney says killer cousin lied, his attorney endorsed perjury

Facing life imprisonment for murder, the cousin of a city man on trial for killing a city cop’s son did whatever he could to get a deal.

That included lying under oath at his cousin’s murder conspiracy trial, a defense attorney said.

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

Defense attorney Jack Furlong didn’t stop there, laying out bold and inflammatory allegations against the admitted killer, Robert Bartley, and his defense attorney, Caroline Turner, who helped broker a deal with prosecutors that included cooperation against Bartley’s cousin, Raheem Currie.

“Why do we bargain for the truth? Don’t we tell the truth naturally?” said Furlong, referring to what he contended was Bartley’s only truthful statement, when he was interrogated by detectives a day after 18-year-old James Austin, the son of a retired Trenton cop, was gunned down in February 2013. “He had a certain truthfulness to him when he was emotionally honest.”Read more

Judge tosses conspiracy count in Trenton man’s cop son murder case

While he refused to toss out a more serious charge of murder, a judge on Wednesday dismissed a murder conspiracy count against a city man who allegedly plotted with a cousin to kill a retired city cop’s son in 2013.

Assistant Prosecutor James Scott conceded that there was not enough evidence to support a charge of conspiracy to commit murder against Raheem Currie, the cousin of admitted killer Robert Bartley.

The jury will still consider a lesser conspiracy charge, as well as counts of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. The murder carries a potential life sentence for Currie if he is found guilty.

Prosecutors pursued the murder charge under the state’s accomplice liability law that makes Currie responsible for James Austin’s death even though he did not pull the trigger.

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

Bartley, Currie’s cousin, admitted fatally shooting James Austin, the slain 18-year-old son of retired Trenton Police sergeant Luddie Austin, in February 2013.

Judge Pedro Jimenez said that under accomplice liability Currie, who chose not to testify, could still be “vicariously responsible” for Austin’s murder because his death from Robert Bartley’s actions was “reasonably foreseeable.”

“The defendant did not balk when Mr. Bartley showed him the gun,” Jimenez said. “Why else bring a gun to a fist fight? Bringing a gun, it’s not inconceivable that gun can be utilized for more than talk.”Read more

Admitted killer’s bizarre, tear-filled interrogation shown to jury in Trenton man’s cop slay trial

A day after he shot a retired Trenton cop’s son to death, Robert Bartley was more worried about perception – and $258 – than reality.

The Trenton transplant, formerly of Chicago, told detectives as they walked into an interrogation room that he was missing a wad of cash. It was taken from him after he was arrested Feb. 27, 2013, and charged with the murder of James Austin, the 18-year-old son of retired Trenton sergeant Luddie Austin.

“I know that’s the least of my worries,” Bartley said. “The money wasn’t in my property. Can you write down that the money wasn’t in my property?”

“There’s a lot of worries, but nothing is the least of the worries,” said Gary Britton, a Trenton Police detective. “I will make it part of my continuing investigation to see where your money is. It’ll be a string around my finger. I gotta find Robert’s money. I promise I will do that for you.”

Robert Bartley

Robert Bartley

Britton played the part of calm, cool cop, trying to build rapport with the suspect, at a time when the department was under pressure to solve the murder of “one of their own,” as a Trenton cop testified to last week.

Britton solved the murder and also tracked down Bartley’s missing cash.

The taped interrogation, which was shown Tuesday for jurors in Raheem Currie’s murder conspiracy trial, happened hours after Bartley claimed he was beaten by police officers who kicked him in the mouth, his side and smashed his head into a parked police cruiser.Read more