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.”

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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

2013.

“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.

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