Plainfield Man Admits Beating Man To Death

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NEW BRUNSWICK — A Plainfield man today admitted fatally beating a man in South Plainfield last summer, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.

James R. Thomas, 37,  pleaded guilty to a count of aggravated manslaughter in the death on June 28, 2012, of William Koonz, Jr., 53, of South Plainfield.

Thomas pleaded guilty under an agreement reached with Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher L. C. Kuberiet.

Under the terms of the agreement, Thomas will be sentenced to serve 22 years in a New Jersey state prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1, by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick.

Thomas and his mother, Shelley A. Thomas, 54, also of Plainfield, were arrested and charged on July 1, 2012, during an investigation by Detective Gary Cassio of the South Plainfield Police Department and Investigator Jeffrey Temple of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Shelley A. Thomas remains in custody and is awaiting trial. No trial date has been set.

The investigation began after South Plainfield Police responded to a request from a family member to check on the welfare of  Koonz.

Police discovered the homicide when they arrived at 124 Merchants Ave. An autopsy performed by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Koonz died of blunt force trauma to the head.

The investigation showed that James R. Thomas and Mr. Koonz were prior acquaintances and that Koonz was not the victim of a random act.

Assisting with the investigation were members of the Plainfield Police Department and the New Jersey State Police.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charge against Shelley A. Thomas is an accusation and she remains innocent until proven guilty.


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