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‘I wouldn’t risk my life for nothing like that,’ Atlantic City man says of theft charges

Messiah Henry was just rebuilding his life, he told a judge Thursday.
The 21-year-old Atlantic City man is now charged in a knifepoint robbery. He was one of two men arrested Friday for allegedly taking the victim’s wallet and cell phone.
But Henry insisted to Superior Court Judge Donna Taylor that he wouldn’t risk everything he has done to fix his past mistakes.
Henry had four open indictments — including a shooting case and a separate gun case — when he was arrested Oct. 6, for allegedly robbing a man of his wallet and cell phone with two other men. One of the other suspects allegedly had a knife.
“A wallet and a cell phone?” Henry asked in court. “I wouldn’t go jeopardize my life for nothing like that.”
“I spent thousands and thousands(with) my mom and my family, trying to better the situation,” he told Taylor, who has dealt with his other cases. “I would never jeopardize my family and do what they’re saying I did after all I’ve been doing  to fight this and be here.”
Henry said he likely wasn’t even going to see prison time for his previous crimes, and was ready to get into Drug Court.
Taylor told him he was rejected for that.
But, under a plea agreement offer from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, the gun and shooting charges were going to be dropped as long as admitted guilt to two drug cases, said defense attorney Durann Neil, who was not in court with Henry.
Neil told BreakingAC that the gun charges would keep him out but that, once the plea was done and those were dropped, Henry would have been eligible.
But the new charges will stop that, at least for now.
Henry insisted in court that he was not involved in the new crime.
“This case has nothing to do with me,” he said. “Nothing to do with me at all. I just sat eight months and came home and did every requirement.
“I had multiple parking tickets up to date. Everything up to date. All my payments, fines, everything, up to date.”
Henry pleaded with the judge to release him on home monitoring as he’s in fear he will lose his four children, saying Child Protection and Permanency is getting involved.
“I’m not a flight risk,” he said. “I wouldn’t go nowhere. I need to be home with my children. And I’m actually working now. Everything was going good. Why would I (risk that) for a wallet and a cell phone?”
Taylor did say that there could be problems with identifying Henry — which could lead to defense motions filed as the case proceeds. But she found that the state had met the low requirement for probable cause. The judge ordered him detained pending trial.

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