Judge won’t dismiss murder charges in Batie slaying, cop testifies about threat

Citing the “powerful” case prosecutors finished putting on Tuesday, a Superior Court judge refused to throw out murder charges against two men suspected of killing off-duty corrections officer Carl Batie in 2012.

Judge Andrew Smithson said a third-party guilt defense offered by suspected triggerman Maurice Skillman was “fanciful.”

Skillman is being tried a second time along with Hykeem “Tex” Tucker after their first trial earlier this year ended in mistrial when a jury couldn’t reach a verdict.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Tucker is accused of acting as a lookout while Skillman fired 22 shots at the packed balcony of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012.Read more

With bail reform coming, Mercer judge anxious to move murder cases

Anticipating the impact New Jersey’s bail reform will have on currently jailed defendants, a Mercer County judge said he was anxious to get the murder cases of two men to trial before next year.

The men, Donte Jones and Ronald Smith, are each charged with separate slayings.

Jones is charged with fatally shooting 36-year-old Levonza Thompson with a 9mm handgun in the courtyard of the Oakland Park Apartments on the 200 block of Coolidge Avenue on Halloween night 2014. He has so far rejected a plea deal offer that would send him to prison for 33 years.

Donte Jones

Donte Jones

Smith, who is serving an unrelated prison sentence, is accused of killing 27-year-old Kevin Thomas in 2006. He also has so far rejected prosecutors’ plea offer that would require him to spend 27 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter.Read more

Trenton man surrenders to police for unrelated reason, gets charged with murder of Zaire Gibbs

Seth Z. Bowers

Seth Z. Bowers

A city man has been charged in connection with the murder of Zaire Gibbs, who was shot last week during an altercation in the East Ward.

Seth Z. Bowers, 21, is charged with murder and related weapons offenses for allegedly shooting Gibbs while in the first block of Washington Street around 3:50 p.m. on June 1. Gibbs died in the hospital as a result of his injuries the following day.

Prosecutors say Gibbs and Bowers were arguing minutes prior to the shooting, and detectives who spoke on condition of anonymity say the argument may have regarded drugs.

Bowers voluntarily visited Trenton Police headquarters on North Clinton Avenue the day following the shooting after learning detectives wanted to speak with him. During that visit, he was arrested in connection with unrelated warrants. Then, on Friday evening, while being held in the Mercer County Correction Center, Bowers was charged with Gibbs’ murder. Read more

Man shot in Trenton Wednesday afternoon dies in hospital

Zaire Gibbs

Zaire Gibbs

The man who was shot Wednesday afternoon during what investigators believe was an argument regarding drugs has died from his injuries.

His death is the second homicide to occur in the capital city this week, and he is the ninth person to die by gunfire in Trenton this year, which is greater than the number of people who were murdered by this time in 2015.

Zaire Gibbs, 25, was shot around 3:50 p.m Wednesday while in the first block of Washington Street. He died at the hospital Thursday afternoon after having emergency surgery and being held overnight in the intensive care unit in extremely critical condition. Read more

Tex’ was identified by FBI agent’s confidential informant

A city police detective caught a “big break” while investigating the murder of off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie.

Trenton Police detective Scott Peterson testified under cross examination Thursday that, until he got a phone call from someone from the FBI, he didn’t know the government name of a man who was later charged in Batie’s slaying at the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in November 2012.

Peterson said he obtained a photo of a man who was at the banquet hall in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012.

Hykeem Tucker

Hykeem Tucker

After showing the photo to Marquis Skillman during an interview in January 2013, the detective learned the man’s street name was “Tex.”Read more

Suspected Batie killer to detective: ‘Kiss my black a—’

Hykeem Tucker took a drag from the cigarette a police detective sparked up for him. It was all “bullsh—,” he exclaimed.

Offering to take a lie-detector test, he said the “rats” feeding city police detective Scott Peterson bad information about his alleged involvement in the murder of off-duty corrections officer Carl Batie in 2012 could “kiss my black a—.”

Hykeem Tucker

Hykeem Tucker

“Wherever you go the information … I didn’t kill nobody,” Tucker said. “I’m getting charged with something I didn’t do.”

During an interview with police in January 2013, after he had already been charged, a defiant Tucker repeatedly told detectives he had nothing to do with the murder of the Mercer County corrections officer.
Read more

Wednesday homicide victim is father of previously slain Trenton teen

Elvin Kimble (left) and his father Elvin Grimsley. (submitted photo)

Elvin Kimble (left) and his father Elvin Grimsley. (submitted photo)

The man who was murdered while in a car Wednesday night is the father of a city teen who was killed in a gun battle in Chambersburg last year. Read more

Man murdered in Trenton Wednesday night, another shot earlier in the day

Police investigate a murder on Whittaker Ave. (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

Police investigate a murder on Whittaker Avenue. June 1, 2016 (Gregg Slaboda - Trentonian)

UPDATE: The victim of this fatal shooting has been identified as 38-year-old Elvin Grimsley.

A man was murdered Wednesday evening in almost the same manner and location as a man who was killed in the capital city last month. Read more

Trenton detective tells tale of the tapes in Batie murder retrial

Veteran city police detective Scott Peterson believes he has a keen eye for criminals.

But will jurors in the second murder trial of two men suspected of killing off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie see what the Trenton Police detective sees on surveillance tapes?

Peterson, the husky homicide investigator, remarked with an air of exactitude during hours of testimony Wednesday that he knows Maurice Skillman and Hykeem Tucker were behind the murder of Batie.

Maurice Skillman

Maurice Skillman

Peterson’s convictions on the stand were steeled from reviewing numerous camera angles that showed the exterior and interior of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012.

“I continued to watch the video, hours and hours,” he said, noting how his attention was drawn to the man wearing the distinctive varsity jacket.

Read more

Batie murder suspect’s brother mostly mum on witness stand

The tantrum-throwing, paper-tossing twin brother of a suspected killer behaved a bit better on the witness stand the second time around.

Marquis Skillman

Marquis Skillman

The last time he was on the stand a few months ago, Marquis Skillman, the twin brother of suspected killer Maurice Skillman, tossed the written statement he gave Trenton detectives to the ground and kept his eyes downcast, never eyeballing jurors.

He wasn’t helpful to prosecutors or defense attorneys at the first trial for Maurice Skillman and alleged accomplice Hykeem Tucker, who are charged with murder in the slaying of off-duty Mercer County corrections officer Carl Batie.

Batie was shot in the head in the early-morning hours of Nov. 11, 2012 as he stood on the deck of the Baldassari Regency banquet hall.

At the first trial in February, Marquis Skillman, who was not charged in connection with Batie’s murder, cursed at court officials and responded 57 times that he didn’t know or didn’t remember what attorneys were talking about when they asked him about information he provided to authorities during a January 2013 interview with Trenton Detective Scott Peterson.Read more