Rahway man convicted in robbery, fatal shooting of taxi driver

Nathaniel Young, Jr. is guiloty of murder and could spend life behind bars. He is 23 years old.

A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts on all five counts against the Rahway man who murdered a local taxi driver during the course of a botched armed robbery in 2015, causing a motor vehicle collision that cost a young woman her leg.

Nathaniel Young Jr., 23, was convicted on charges including first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, a second-degree weapons offense, and second-degree aggravated assault following a seven-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Lisa Miralles Walsh and several hours of jury deliberation spread over two days.

Shortly before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25, 2015, Rahway Police Department patrol units were called to the 1400 block of Bedford Street in Rahway, according to Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr., who prosecuted the case.

Arriving officers found the body of Imad Alasmar, 57, of Edison, still in his taxi, a Ford Crown Victoria, Cernadas said. The victim’s wife was left to raise 10 children alone.

Immediately following the shooting, Alasmar’s vehicle traveled a short distance down the street and collided with a parked Ford Fusion, resulting in serious injuries to an adult male and female occupant.

The women’s injuries, which included numerous bone fractures, were so serious they necessitated in the eventual amputation of her lower leg.

A joint investigation involving the Union County Homicide Task Force, Rahway Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit revealed that Young had shot Alasmar twice during the course of the robbery, including one round to the head that killed him.

Investigators recovered the .45-caliber handgun used in the crime from the taxi’s deployed and deflated airbag, then found Young’s DNA and fingerprint on the weapon’s body and trigger, respectively.

Cell phone records showed that Young traveled from Newark to Rahway that night, calling Alasmar’s taxi company 10 minutes before the shooting, then left the area immediately thereafter.

Dino Bjelopoljak, a public defender, said Young had shoulder-length dreadlocks but that they were cut the day before the murder. Eyewitnesses described the suspect as a man with long dreadlocks.

Bjelopoljak also claimed that phone records showing that Young was in Rahway at 10:44 p.m. and in East Orange at 11:09 p.m. would have made it impossile for his client to kill the driver when police say the shooting happened.

Two days later, Newark police tried to pull over Young, who tried to flee in his vehicle but in the process struck a 79-year-old woman who was walking her dog. He eventually crashed, tried to run away on foot, but was caught.

Young’s bail was revoked following Monday’s verdict, and he was taken into custody pending sentencing, which has been scheduled for Friday, December 7 before Judge Walsh.

At that time, Young will face a term of up to life in prison.

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