Elizabeth man sentenced to 24 years in connection with Linden homicide

Aziz Howard, left, and James Gilford, both pleaded guilty in the June 25 shooting death of James Garner, 37, in Linden. Gilford was sentenced Friday and Howard is in slated to face sentencing on August 18. (Photo credit: Union County Prosecutor’s Office)

An Elizabeth man has been sentenced to 24 years in state prison for his role in a Linden homicide that took place a little more than two years ago.

James Gilford, 22, was sentenced Friday morning by state Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch, who ordered him to serve 85 percent of his term before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.

At about 11:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2015, Linden Police Department patrol units responding to a shots-fired call arrived at the 300 block of East Price Street and found 37-year-old James Garner suffering from gunshot wounds in a second-floor apartment unit, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who prosecuted the case.

Garner was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, Spagnoli said.  

An investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Task Force, Linden Police Department, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit resulted in Gilford and 37-year-old Carteret resident Aziz Howard being identified as suspects in what was determined to have been a robbery gone wrong, and they were both arrested in July 2015, lodged in Union County Jail on $2 million bail apiece.

Gilford and Howard pleaded guilty to single counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter about a week apart in May 2017.

Howard is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Deitch on Friday, August 18, 2017.  

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