A grand jury has indicted a Trenton man on murder and related firearm charges for the June 2020 shooting death of another city man in the state capital’s West Ward, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday.
Dwayne Capers Jr., 28, allegedly crossed Oakland Street near Hoffman Avenue on foot on June 2 and gunned down Dontae Barnes at close range, then ran from the scene and tore off several articles of clothing, including a mask and gloves, the office alleges.
Barnes, who had just gotten out of a parked SUV, was 37 years old.
Police officers had detained Capers on nearby Oak Lane, not long after the 5:20 p.m. shooting after witnesses reported the gunman’s apparently flight from the scene. He was wearing just shorts, and he said he’d been out for a run, a prosecutor’s detective wrote in the criminal complaint against Capers.
Detectives collected a number of pieces of evidence at the scene, including bullet casings, as well as discarded items of clothing on Hoffman Avenue, Laurel Avenue and Oak Lane, notably a pair of maroon or burgundy scrub or medical pants and similar top. They sent the items for DNA testing while they pursued other leads.
The other leads included surveillance footage from nearby security cameras, which recorded the crime, and the flight of the gunman – clad in maroon or burgundy clothing, the complaint says.
Also, Barnes’ mother told detectives that she’d been approached by several people who reported a man named “Wayne Wayne” had shot her son, a detective wrote in the complaint. And, the mother also said she was approached by a woman on the street who handed her a note that someone wanted the police to have, which the woman reported was a note given to the man who shot Barnes.
The note, which the mother turned over to detectives, had the written words, “Dwayne Capers 63 alden.” Trenton police records show Capers’ address as 63 Alden Avenue, a few blocks from the shooting, the complaint says.
Detectives received an investigative order on June 5, 2020 for Capers to provide his DNA, and he submitted the sample on June 8.
On Oct. 4, 2021, DNA results reported a match between Capers and a tank-top shirt police found near the crime scene that was among the clothes they suspect the suspect discarded as he ran.
Authorities arrested Capers on Dec. 21, 2021. He remains in the Mercer County jail awaiting court appearances.
Capers’ legal representation was not immediately available.
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Kevin Shea may be reached at [email protected].