BRIDGETON — His soft voice wavering as he attempted to hold back tears, Jennifer Trejo’s father described rushing the 9-year-old girl to the hospital after she was shot in the chest and cradling her as she died.

“I left my house with my daughter in my arms,” Ruben Alberto Trejo-Mota testified Tuesday morning during the trial of one of the men charged in the killing. “It was on the way my daughter died in my arms.”

Trejo-Mota was the first witness called in the trial of Leroy Frazier III, one of the four city men charged with murder in the July 17, 2018, shooting, held before Judge Robert G. Malestein in Cumberland County Superior Court.

Prosecutors say the four men had missed their intended targets when they opened fire near the family’s home that night and fatally shot Jennifer while she slept.

Frazier, 20, of Irving Avenue, who’s also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and weapons offenses, sat at the defense table in a light denim-colored shirt, conferring with his lawyer, Emily Bell, from time to time.

If convicted, he could face life in prison.

While driving to the hospital, about five blocks from the family’s home at Elmer and Church streets, a city police officer responding to the shots fired call from dispatch stopped them, not knowing whether they were suspects, according to court testimony. Realizing the victim was in the car, the officer escorted them to the hospital, where Trejo-Mota’s arms were so tired he almost dropped Jennifer.

“I was told to wait in another room while they tried to help my daughter,” said Trejo-Mota, who speaks Spanish and testified through a court interpreter.

When asked by Senior Prosecutor Elizabeth Vogelsong whether doctors were able to save Jennifer, he said no.

During her opening statement, Vogelsong told the 14-person jury the case was about murder, conspiracy and transferred intent, explaining that if a suspect wants to shoot one person but shoots another, it’s still their responsibility.

“At no point in time am I going to be able to tell you which one of the co-defendants shot and fired the deadly shot,” Vogelsong said. “But basically, the state’s presenting to you that I don’t care who fired the shot. All four of them are liable as accomplices.”

Bell told the jury it was a circumstantial case, adding there was no direct evidence, and asked them to use their common sense.

“I submit, at the end of this case, you’re going to have questions,” Bell said. “The question for you, ladies and gentlemen, is: Are those dots being connected by real evidence, or are they being connected by words? Are they proving what they’re saying, or are they just saying it’s so?”

The three other city men charged in the case are Charles Gamble, 18, of Clarke Road; Michael L. Elliot, 26, of North Laurel Street; and Zahmere McKoy, 20, of Atlantic Street.

Frazier’s case was severed from the other three defendants, who will go to trial later this month.

All four men pleaded not guilty after they were indicted in December 2018.

Contact: 609-272-7241

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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