By John Burton |
FREEHOLD — Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Martha Nye stood before a jury in state Superior Court on Tuesday morning asking them to put themselves on a residential street on Red Bank’s West Side on April 9, 2014 – warm day, with neighborhood children playing on the street into the early evening, as the spring sun was beginning to extend the daylight into the early evening, a harbinger of the coming summer. But “they were soon running for cover,” Nye said of those small children, terror-stricken, as “a lone man opened fire on a parked car,” intent on killing the vehicle’s occupant.
Nye was delivering her opening remarks in Judge Thomas F. Scully’s courtroom on the first day of trial for Anthony Sims Jr., whom authorities charge was the assailant who fired off a total of 15 shots in the quiet residential area, allegedly seriously wounding the man sitting in the vehicle, who was hit with at least six shots.
Sims, 28, is formerly a Red Bank resident but more recently had been living in Long Branch at the time of his arrest in 2014, and is charged with attempted murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.
On April 9, three years ago, Red Bank police responded to a call reporting gun shots being fired on Willow Street, off Drs. James Parker Boulevard, at approximately 6:51 p.m. When officers arrived, they found Perry Veney, then 28, bleeding profusely from numerous gunshot wounds outside of his grandmother’s home on Willow.
Officers on the scene took emergency first aid measures in attempts to stanch the bleeding as they awaited the arrival of emergency medical services. Veney was transported by helicopter to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, where, Nye told the jury, he underwent three surgeries, a number of blood transfusions and spent 22 days hospitalized from the wounds that nearly took his life.
Nye told the 12 jury members and two alternates, made up of nine women and five men, that Sims and the victim and their families had known each other for many years, being neighbors in Red Bank. That is until, Nye continued, the two families, and especially Sims and Veney, had “a serious falling out.” In her opening statement, Nye didn’t elaborate as to what that falling out involved.
“Anthony Sims took to settling that falling out into his own hands,” the prosecutor charged.
Veney had been visiting his grandmother, Katherine Ashton, who lives on Willow Street with her son, his wife and their two children.
He was leaving, sitting in his car, when “one man dressed in all black approached a parked car,” Nye told, and proceeded to fire a handgun multiple times into the vehicle, as Veney “desperately tries to escape through the passenger side door.”
Ashton testified that she was in her bedroom watching TV when Veney left and “when I heard pop-pop sounds and I wondered what was that.”
Ashton heard Veney call out, “Grandma, help me!” She ran out of the house to discover “he (Veney) was bleeding in two or three places, badly.
“He was in quite a bit of pain at that time,” Ashton said, recalling she ran into the house for towels for the bleeding and a blanket to cover him, and to have her son call 911.
“ ‘Who did this to you?’ ” Ashton said she asked her grandson. To which Veney replied “Sims,” she said.
Nye alleged Sims was “running as fast as his two legs will carry him…running from the violence he has committed,” from the scene, leaving the area by way of a four-door, dark blue Ford SUV.
The alleged shooter had been described by Veney as a small, slim black man, wearing all black, a black hoodie, with the hood pulled up over his head, with a dark bandana covering the lower portion of his face. But Nye told the jury that Veney eventually told investigators from the prosecutor’s office, “In no uncertain terms, Anthony Sims was the man who shot him.”
“I hope none of you have made up your mind yet. Have you?” John Perrone, a Long Branch lawyer defending Sims, asked the jury.
Perrone in his opening comments and in cross examination of Ashton, stressed that the culprit was well disguised, calling into question anyone’s attempted identification, stressing Ashton never said she saw Sims commit the act. Veney “was the only one there,” Perrone pointed out for the jury. “I will show he (Veney) didn’t have a chance to see him (Sims),” Perrone maintained.
Nye, on the other hand, said there is other evidence to link Sims to the crime, including verification that Sims’ cellphone was in the vicinity at the approximate time of the shooting; and that the mother of Sims’ child owns a dark blue four-door Ford SUV.
What remains uncertain is whether Veney will testify. When asked following the proceedings, Nye responded with a cryptic, “We’ll have to see.”
“I hope he does,” Perrone answered when asked the same question. “It’s going to be very interesting.”
The victim, Veney, who is now in his early 30s, continues to face his own legal challenges. He currently faces murder and weapon possession charges related to a 2015 killing. Veney and Frederick Reed, a Delaware resident, were charged last December with the July 10, 2015 killing of Rasheem Palmer, a Red Bank man, outside an Eatontown apartment complex.
According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Veney and authorities are tentatively scheduled for a status conference on his charges in October.
Sims, too, has a history of violence. In 2010 he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in state prison for his involvement in a shooting of two Red Bank men in the area of the Montgomery Terrace, a public housing complex on Red Bank’s West Side. That incident left one victim paralyzed. Sims had been released from prison in January 2014.
Sims currently remains in custody at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold, where he’s been since his 2014 arrest.
This trial is expected to last for approximately three weeks.
This article was first published in the June 22-29, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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