NEW BRUNSWICK — A Plainfield man was sentenced today to serve 22 years in a New Jersey state prison for fatally beating a man in his South Plainfield home last summer, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced.
In addition, James R. Thomas, 37, of Plainfield will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the term before he can be eligible for parole for the killing on June 28, 2012, of William Koonz, Jr., 53.
Thomas was sentenced to the term by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz in New Brunswick.
Thomas pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 2013 to a count of aggravated manslaughter. He admitted the crime under an agreement reached with Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher L. C. Kuberiet.
Thomas and his mother, Shelley A. Thomas, 53, 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 also has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
The investigation began after South Plainfield Police responded to a request from a family member to check on the welfare of Mr. 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 Mr. Koonz died from blunt force trauma to the head and was a victim of homicide.
The investigation showed that James R. Thomas and Mr. Koonz were prior acquaintances and that Mr. 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.