TRENTON – State Sen, Robert Singer (R-Monmouth and Ocean) said a plea deal reached in a case of senseless killings of innocent bystanders in Elizabeth is an egregious example of why the death penalty should be reinstated in New Jersey.
“A shooter in a double murder of a 13-year-old boy and a 54-year-old construction worker can walk free at age 42,” Singer said. “Where’s the justice in that?”
Bryant “Smoke” Lee, 23, pleaded guilty this week to reduced charges for his role in the 2007 shooting deaths of eighth-grader Elijah Henderson and laborer Celso Pedra, according to authorities. Lee is to be sentenced to 23 years in prison and will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
Singer sponsors S-175, which aims to allow judges and juries to impose the death penalty on convicted murderers of people younger than 18 years old, on-duty law enforcement personnel, or people during a terrorist attack. Under New Jersey’s former death penalty, repealed in 2007, a jury or court could weigh as part of their death-penalty decision whether a killed victim was under the age of 14 years old. Thirty-four states in this country have the death penalty.
“We need to allow justice to provide closure to families suffering the tragedy of losing innocent loved ones and raise the stakes for killers,” Singer concluded. “By committing such horrific crimes, I believe murderers forfeit their rights to a plea bargain.”
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