Newark Man Pleads Guilty to Shooting Death of Off-Duty Newark Cop in Paterson

In a courtroom full of uniformed Newark cops, Jerome Wright, a 25-year old Newark man (pictured left) appeared at the Passaic County Superior Court earlier this week and pled guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter and Robbery. Wright had been indicted, among other things, on the charge of Murder, for the 2011 shooting death of Michael Morgan, Jr. outside of a Paterson strip club. Morgan was an off-duty Newark cop.

Wright admitted that on November 7, 2011, he recklessly caused Morgan’s death by shooting him in the torso during a robbery. If he had been found guilty of felony-murder after trial, Wright could have faced life in prison without parole. Under his plea agreement, his exposure is now limited to 39 years in New Jersey State Prison. He will have to serve 33 years (85%) before he will become eligible for parole under the No Early Release Act (“NERA”) for violent offenders.

Wright’s girlfriend and accomplice, Nashali Gadson (also pictured), also appeared and pled guilty to her role in the incident. She admitted that she participated in the robbery of at least three separate victims with Wright that night by driving around with him, picking targets, and waiting in the car while he robbed the victims at gunpoint. Under her plea agreement, her exposure will be limited to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, 85% of which will also have to be served under NERA before she will become eligible for parole.

A third co-defendant, Keshawn “Ki-Ki” Harlery, 26, is still in the midst of negotiations with the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office. He is alleged to have aided Wright and Gadson as they attempted to elude police. He faces charges of Witness Tampering, Hindering Apprehension, and Weapons offenses.

Apparently, Wright and Gadson fled the jurisdiction following the incident….but only after Wright used one of the stolen credit cards to make a purchase at Foot Locker in Newark. The transaction was captured by video surveillance and subsequently published by the Paterson Police Department and The Record. The information led to Wright and Gadson’s arrest at a Holiday Inn near Philadelphia days later.

Morgan, 32, of Belleville, served with the Newark Police Department for six years, the last five of which he held the title of Detective. His relatives (who were present in court) declined to comment following the proceedings.

Both Wright and Gadson are scheduled to be sentenced by the Honorable Donald J. Volkert, Jr. on June 7th.

For more information, see the article entitled, “Gunman in killing of Newark cop in Paterson pleads guilty.”