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

Retired Trenton cop offended by admitted killer’s cop brutality claim

It wasn’t enough that Robert Bartley shot retired Trenton cop Luddie Austin’s son to death in 2013.

The admitted killer had to get in another shot Thursday at Austin, and his brothers in blue – some of whom have testified at the trial of a man suspected of conspiring with Bartley to kill Austin’s son, 18-year-old James, on Feb. 26, 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.

Bartley, who has accepted a 25-year plea deal from prosecutors for his cooperation, took the stand and testified against his cousin, Raheem Currie.

During his testimony, he was asked about his arrest on the morning of Feb. 27, 2013. He claimed that he was brutalized by police prior to being taken to an interrogation room at Trenton Police headquarters, where he later confessed to the murder.Read more

Admitted killer says cousin knew about gun, told him to bring it in cop son slay

Robert Bartley said his cousin knew about, and saw, his .32-caliber handgun, which he kept stowed away in a shoebox inside the room of the cousins’ home in Trenton.

Bartley, formerly of Chicago, moved to Trenton sometime around 1999, he testified Thursday. At some point, he moved in with his cousin, Raheem Currie, and his girlfriend, Endia Kaver, at a home on the 600 block of Greenwood Avenue.

Wearing a blue and orange polo shirt pulled over his bright orange prison jumpsuit, Bartley offered dramatic testimony that his cousin knew about his gun, asked him to bring it with him to an East State Street home, and brandished it in front of him, on the day Bartley fatally shot 18-year-old James Austin, the fallen son of former city cop Luddie Austin.

Robert Bartley

Robert Bartley

“I pulled my gun out and asked him what he’s trying to do,” said Bartley, prosecutors’ star witness in Currie’s murder conspiracy trial.

Bartley took the stand the same day as another Trenton man who testified about Currie’s possible motive for retaliating against Austin.Read more

Medical examiner says cop’s son went into ‘shock,’ bled out after being shot

A Mercer County medical examiner testified Thursday that a slain city cop’s son was healthy and his body went into shock after he was shot by a city man outside a Trenton home in February 2013.

James Austin, 18, the son of retired Trenton cop Luddie Austin, was shot once in the chest Feb. 26, 2013, outside his girlfriend’s East State Street home, following a fight with another man, Raheem Currie.

James Austin with his twin daughters.

James Austin with his twin daughters.

Currie and his cousin, Robert Bartley, returned to the home with two others minutes after Currie and Austin smashed each other’s car windshields.

Bartley admitted fatally shooting Austin, in pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter, and is expected to testify this afternoon.

Currie is on trial, accused of conspiring with his cousin to retaliate against Austin, which ended in his death.

Prosecutors called ballistics and medical experts to testify this morning. The ballistics experts examined a .32-caliber handgun and a shell casing recovered at the murder scene and concluded it was came from the handgun used to kill Austin.Read more

Judge shoots down mistrial in Trenton cop son slay case

A judge Thursday morning rejected a request from Raheem Currie’s defense attorney for a mistrial based on testimony from a Trenton Police officer who noted that the victim, James Austin, was the son of a retired police officer.

Currie is being tried for conspiring with his cousin, Robert Bartley, to murder Austin, the slain 18-year-old son of retired city cop Luddie Austin, in February

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie


“A mistrial should only be granted to prevent an obvious failure of justice,” Judge Pedro Jimenez said. “There has to be clear showing of actual harm.”

The issue revolved around the testimony of Drew Astbury, a K-9 officer from Trenton Police.

Read more

Girlfriends take stand at trial for Trenton man accused in cop son’s death

As she sat in the back seat of a Honda Civic parked outside the home of a retired city cop’s son in February 2013, Endia Kaver admitted to police that she was nervous.

Her boyfriend, Raheem Currie, and James Austin, had been involved in a fight earlier that day. And now they had returned with Currie’s cousin, Robert Bartley, to settle the score.

Kaver, Currie’s longtime girlfriend, remembered thinking to herself, as Bartley stepped out of Honda Civic and informed the group he planned to spray up Austin’s East State Street home, “Lord, don’t let this get out of hand.”

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

Testifying Wednesday at Currie’s murder conspiracy trial, Kaver told jurors she had no idea what Bartley meant about spraying up the home of Austin, the slain 18-year-old son of retired Trenton cop Luddie Austin.

“I don’t know what he meant necessarily at the time,” said Kaver, a short, African American woman with long, braided hair that had streaks of red. “I didn’t know [Bartley] had a gun.”Read more

Trenton detective: City man ‘broke down,’ confessed during murder interrogation

The city man who shot a Trenton cop’s son to death in 2013 tried to get a feel for what police knew about his involvement in the crime when he was first interrogated, a retired police detective testified Wednesday.

But by the end of the interrogation, retired Trenton Police detective Gary Britton said, the suspect, Robert Bartley, had confessed to killing James Austin, the son of well-known retired Trenton police officer Luddie Austin.

Robert Bartley

Robert Bartley

“He was not sure what we were able to find out about what happened,” at the Feb. 26, 2013 murder, said Britton, who spent 24 years with Trenton Police until his retirement. “He seemed to be curious about a fight that took place a day before with his cousin. By the end of that, he was completely broken down, sobbing, apologetic, angry that he made the decision that he made.”Read more

Prosecutors say Trenton man conspired to kill Trenton cop’s son

A dispute between a slain Trenton cop’s son and a city man began over shattered car windows.

By the end of it, lives had been shattered.

Raheem Currie

Raheem Currie

James Austin, 18, was shot once in the chest in his East State Street home on the afternoon of Feb. 26, 2013, as his girlfriend looked on helplessly while clutching one of Austin’s twin daughters, prosecutors said in opening statements Tuesday.

Robert Bartley admitted fatally shooting Austin and accepted a plea that calls for him to serve 25 years in prison. He must also testify at the trial of his cousin, Raheem Currie, who faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of conspiracy.

Currie has maintained his innocence, and opposing attorneys delivered sharply different accounts of what happened that day.Read more