A Paterson NJ teenager is headed to state prison after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter charges in connection with a fatal shooting in Clifton, New Jersey.
The homicide occurred on October 15, 2015 just outside Lexington Liquors in Clifton, NJ. The suspect was among a group of people who allegedly got into an altercation with Leandro Mendoza, a liquor store employee, in front of the Clifton liquor store where Mendoza worked. The suspect reportedly left the liquor store, but he returned a short time later and used a handgun to fatally shoot Mendoza twice.
At the time of the fatal shooting, the suspect was just 17 years of age. As a result, he was initially charged as a juvenile offender. However, Passaic County prosecutors successfully petitioned to get the suspect s case transferred from juvenile court to criminal court so that he could be charged as an adult.
The suspect faced numerous criminal charges, including first degree murder, robbery, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was ultimately able to avoid trial by arriving at a plea agreement with the Passaic County Prosecutor s Office.
The suspect recently appeared in Passaic County Superior Court, located in Paterson, so that he could be formally sentenced. The superior court judge allowed the plea deal and sentenced the suspect to a term of incarceration of 16 years in New Jersey State Prison. If the suspect had contested the charges and gone to trial, he would have faced life imprisonment.
The suspect s plea deal requires him to testify against his co-defendants in the homicide case. The other defendants include a 17-year-old Clifton resident, a 17-year-old Paterson resident, and an 18-year-old Clifton NJ male.
To learn more about this case, read the NJ.com article, “Teen Gets 16 Years for Killing Clifton Liquor Store Worker, Report Says.”