For Immediate Release: October 14, 2022
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
– Pearl Minato, Director
TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced an eight-year prison sentence for a Trenton man convicted of aggravated assault in a shooting last year.
Kevion Watkins, 19, of Mellon Street must serve 85% of his eight-year term – nearly seven years – under the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Robert Lytle in Mercer County on October 7, 2022.
Watkins pleaded guilty to second-degree aggravated assault for firing two bullets into a moving vehicle, striking one of the occupants in the hand following a physical altercation inside a Trenton deli on October 2, 2021.
“Firing a weapon at a moving vehicle in a public street is unacceptable and egregious,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals who disregard public safety, as we work to reduce the gun violence threatening communities across New Jersey.”
Watkins was arrested on October 2, 2021, by Trenton Police who responded to a ShotSpotter alert of two rounds fired on Oakland Street shortly before 10 a.m. He was taken into custody after he attempted to exit an Oakland Street apartment building where he fled after the shooting. Police recovered the weapon – a silver and black 9mm Ruger with a defaced serial number – under a floor mat in a common area of the building.
The gun was later linked by ballistic testing to at least one prior shooting – a May 1, 2020 incident in which five members of the violent Get Money Boys or “GMB” street gang allegedly opened fire on a group of individuals on Sanhican Drive in Trenton, wounding two men. The suspects charged in that shooting are among 20 alleged members and associates of GMB who were indicted last year in connection with multiple shootings in Trenton that also include the December 2019 murder of a 32-year-old man; the attempted murder of a Trenton police officer in February 2020; and a June 2020 shooting that wounded several bystanders, including a 12-year-old girl who was critically injured. Watkins, who turned 18 years old in August 2020, is not a defendant in that case.
“Our work with local and county law enforcement in this case not only took a dangerous individual off the street, it cut off access to a community gun already linked to at least one prior violent crime,” said Director Pearl Minato of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to collaborate and share intelligence with law enforcement agencies to reduce gun crimes in New Jersey and protect our residents from the threat of gun violence.”
In pleading guilty, Watkins admitted to firing the gun recovered by police in the direction of two individuals who were in a car, intending to cause them serious bodily harm. A surveillance camera inside the deli captured footage of the two victims involved in a physical altercation with a group of people inside the store, and then showed the pair exiting the store and getting into a blue 2017 Chevy Impala. Subsequent footage from the camera showed an individual, later identified as Watkins, running down the street while displaying a firearm and then firing two rounds into the victims’ car as it passed by him. One of the bullets struck the driver in the hand. The other occupant was not injured.
On December 8, 2021, a state grand jury indicted Watkins on two counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree aggravated assault, and numerous weapons charges including second-degree possession, receipt, or transfer of a community gun while engaging in criminal activity. A community gun is defined by statute as a firearm that is transferred among, between, or within any association of two or more persons who, while possessing that firearm, engage in criminal activity or use it unlawfully against the person or property of another.
Deputy Attorney General Karen M. Bornstein handled the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis. The case was investigated by the Trenton Police Department and the Mercer County Shooting Response Team, with assistance from the New Jersey State Police Gangs & Organized Crime South Unit.
Melissa Karabulut, Esq.