Plainfield Woman Sentenced For Crimes Related To 2012 Killing

NEW BRUNSWICK — A Plainfield woman has been sentenced to serve four years in a New Jersey state prison for her role in crimes committed against a South Plainfield man, who was fatally beaten by her son in South Plainfield last summer.

Shelley A. Thomas, 54, was sentenced to the term on March 11, 2013, after she pleaded guilty to counts of burglary, aggravated assault and theft by unlawful taking, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced. The term was imposed by Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick.

Thomas pleaded guilty on Jan. 14, admitting she struck William Koonz, Jr., 53, with a power tool and illegally entered his pickup truck and took it after her son, James R. Thomas, 37, of Plainfield, fatally beat the victim in his South Plainfield home on June 28, 2012.

James R. Thomas and Shelley A. Thomas 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.

The investigation began after South Plainfield Police responded to a request from a family member to check on the welfare of Mr. Koonz. Assisting with the investigation were members of the Plainfield Police Department and the New Jersey State Police.

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.

James R. Thomas pleaded guilty in January to a count of aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced on March 1 to 22 years in prison. He must serve at least 85 percent of the term before he can be eligible for parole.

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