In June of 1991, a 15-year-old boy in Egg Harbor Township attempted to rob a local sporting goods store. The plan went awry and before it was all over, the teenager had shot and killed a 49-year-old store employee. Distraught by what he had done, the boy turned himself in to police a few hours later and was placed under arrest.

As frequently happens with violent juvenile crimes such as this, prosecutors were successful in getting the case transferred into the adult criminal justice system. After doctors determined the boy was incompetent to stand trial, he was committed to a state mental institution until such time as doctors declared him competent enough to understand his rights, the charges against him and to assist in his own defense.

In the years since, there have been several competency hearings held – each one attended family members and friends of the victim, and each resulting in the finding that the now-grown man was still not competent enough to stand trial.

On July 31, 2012 — based on a review of new reports from three different doctors — a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that the man who’d spent more than 20 years in mental health facilities was now competent to stand trial. Eight days later, he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder.

At the sentencing hearing last Friday, the man declined to address the court. So, in accordance with the plea agreement arranged by prosecutors, the judge then sentenced him to serve at least 30 years of a 35-year prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole. With credit for time spent in state custody since committing this crime as a juvenile, last week’s sentencing decision means that he will be eligible to apply for parole in approximately eight years.

Source: Shore News Today, “EHT man sentenced for murder committed 20 years ago,” Sept. 14, 2012