A Neptune man has been found guilty of murdering Nathaniel Wiggins, 24, of Eatontown.
Tahj Pines, 27, of Neptune was found guilty of felony murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery, armed robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in connection with the 2008 murder of Wiggins, Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced on Friday.
Pines remains incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution and is scheduled for sentencing on April 12, 2013, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English.
According to a release from the prosecutor's office, on March 11, 2008, at approximately 10:15 p.m., the Eatontown Police Department received a 911 call reporting shots fired at 264 Route 35 in Eatontown. Officers responded to that location where they found Wiggins lying on the floor of his second-floor apartment with a serious gunshot wound.
Wiggins was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for emergency medical treatment, but succumbed to his injuries a day later.
Pines, along with his brother, Aron T. Pines, 19, of Neptune, Kenneth M. Bacon- Vaughters, of Asbury Park, and Lashawn Fitch, of Neptune, traveled together in a motor vehicle to Wiggins’ apartment in Eatontown intending to rob Wiggins, the release said. Once they arrived at Wiggins’ apartment, three of the four men, including Tahj Pines, exited the motor vehicle and approached the apartment, while the fourth man remained in the driver’s seat of the vehicle in order to facilitate a quick getaway after the robbery, the release said.
Bacon-Vaughters knocked on Wiggins’ door and Wiggins, recognizing him, opened the door believing that Bacon-Vaughters was alone. Before Wiggins closed the door, Aron Pines and Fitch, both of whom were wearing masks, forcibly entered Wiggins’ residence. One of the three men brandished a handgun and ultimately shot Wiggins, causing his death. The three men then fled from the scene in the waiting vehicle, the release said.
Tahj Pines was the third man to stand trial in this case and faces a potential maximum custodial term of up to life imprisonment for the felony murder conviction.
On March 24, 2011, Bacon-Vaughters was convicted of felony murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. On June 10, 2011, Judge English sentenced him to 40 years’ imprisonment with an 85 percent period of parole ineligibility.
On Feb. 7, 2012, Aron Pines was convicted of conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. On May 4, 2012, Judge English sentenced him to 8 years’ imprisonment with an 85% period of parole ineligibility.