Bloods gang member: Trenton’s crime issues linked to poverty

Earlie Harrell, a high-ranking member of the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods street gang, who is also known as Messiah. (Contributed photo)

Earlie Harrell, a high-ranking member of the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods street gang, who is also known as Messiah. (Contributed photo)

Earlie Harrell, a high-ranking member of the Sex, Money, Murder set of the Bloods street gang, knew several murder victims who died in 2015. In fact, he’s known many of the victims killed in Trenton over the past 15 years.

Harrell, who’s also known as Messiah, doesn’t keep a tally of the people he’s known who are now dead, nor does he like to talk about the lives lost. But as media and community leaders analyze the capital city’s murder rate at the end of each year, Harrell can’t help but wonder if he’s been correct all along.

“I think about it all the time, and the way I see it, the politicians and city leaders are at fault for all these deaths,” Harrell said. “The people in leadership positions who have the resources to change things are at fault.”

Violent crime in the capital city has significantly declined since 2013, the deadliest year in Trenton’s history. Law enforcement officials attribute the decline to a multi-faceted crime fighting strategy that includes collaborative efforts from local, state and federal agencies. The newly reformed Mercer County Shooting Response Team and the Attorney General’s Targeted Anti-Gun (TAG) initiative are just two strategies officials say help significantly improve their ability to keep the city’s most violent criminals off of the streets.

Much of the city’s gun violence is related to drug trade, police say, and often times retaliatory in nature. So, while everyone analyzes initiatives that help solve and prevent crime, Harrell wonders why no one is questioning what caused violence to spike in the first place.

“They have to give street hustlers the tools to change,” 40-year-old Harrell said. “We need to train people to work in today’s job market.” Read more

Hung juries stand out among Mercer County criminal cases in 2015

Mercer County had two hung juries in back-to-back murder trials in two weeks, a vexing problem for prosecutors that legal experts said could point to flaws in the cases, flaws in the way their cases were presented or flaws in jurors.

Legal experts wrangled over an alphabet soup of possibilities when they were contacted by The Trentonian, which focused on the hung juries as part for its end-of-the-year story detailing the county’s most riveting criminal cases. Read more

2015: Trenton’s homicides by the numbers

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The numbers in this report are pulled from Homicide Watch Trenton’s database, unless otherwise noted. For more information, use the sorting features of the victims and suspects databases, or explore the map.

In 2015, the city experienced 19 homicides, which includes the deaths of John Covington and Tina Anderson, whom both were killed via automobile accidents that were later determined to be vehicular homicides.

According to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Reporting Unit, vehicular homicides are considered manslaughter and are not reported as a homicide statistic. Therefore, New Jersey State Police will report Trenton’s official homicide number as 17. The Trentonian, however, includes vehicular homicides in its yearly homicide count. Read more

Trenton’s most interesting murders of 2015

This mural in memory of Unkle Lord, aka Davae Dickson, was painted by Will Kasso of S.A.G.E. Coalition at the corner of Chambers and Locust streets. (contributed photo)

This mural in memory of Unkle Lord, aka Davae Dickson, was painted by Will Kasso of S.A.G.E. Coalition at the corner of Chambers and Locust streets. (contributed photo)

The number of people murdered in the capital city declined for a second year in a row, but the killing of any single person is a loss of one life too many.

No single person’s death is more important than another’s, as each murder brings heartbreak and suffering to people still living. Several murders captured the city’s hearts and minds this year, for a variety of reasons. This is a short list of those that were most captivating. Read more