Third of Four Suspects in 2008 Eatontown Murder-Robbery Convicted
Legal proceedings remain for only one of four suspects accused of gunning an Eatontown man to death in his apartment nearly five years ago. A Monmouth County Superior Court jury in Freehold Friday convicted Tahj Pines, 27, of Neptune, of murder and robbery for his role in the March 2008 death of Nathaniel Wiggins, 24.
According to acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Grammniccioni, Pines was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commmit armed robbery, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He remains in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution until his scheduled April sentencing in Freehold. He risks a life sentence.
The conviction leaves trial pending only for Lashawn Fitch, also of Neptune. Pines's brother Aron, 19, of Neptune, was convicted of robbery and conspiracy and sentenced to eight years in prison earlier this year. On March 24, 2011, two weeks after the crime, Kenneth Bacon-Vaughters of Neptune was convicted of felony murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was sentenced to 40 years' imprisonment the following June. Both are required to serve 85 percent of their terms.
Prosecutors contend that the Pines brothers and Bacon-Vaughters drove to Wiggins's Route 35 apartment to rob him. A fourth man, they said, stayed in the car as wheelman to enable a quick getaway.
Authorities said that Wiggins recognized Bacon-Vaughters and opened the entrance, believing that he was alone. They concluded that Aron Pines and Fitch, in masks, forced their way in. They say one of the three drew a gun and shot Wiggins and fled.
Eatontown police responding to a 911 call shortly after 10 PM on March 11 found Wiggins face down in his second-floor unit, gravely wounded by a gunshot. Wiggins was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where lifesaving efforts ultimately failed and he died at about 5:30 the following morning.