NEWARK, NJ – Yanafi Mojica, 33, of Elizabeth was sentenced to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison for the Oct. 8, 2015 shooting death of 28-year-old Newark resident Michael Williams, II by that the Honorable Michael L. Ravin, Judge of the Superior Court, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today, May 5.
Mojica pled guilty on Feb. 23, to first degree aggravated manslaughter. In exchange, the state agreed to recommend a 20-year sentence. Under the No Early Release Act, Mojica has to serve 85 percent of that sentence before he is eligible for parole. He will receive credit for that time for the time he has been incarcerated at the Essex County Correctional Facility since his arrest on Oct. 22, 2015.
Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells, who handled the case, said Williams was fatally shot in the back outside Wet, a Belleville gentlemen’s club, after getting into a dispute with Mojica and two other men. Williams was running from Mojica when he was shot in the back.
Mojica, who admitted to being the shooter, was originally charged with murder and weapons offenses along with codefendants Nathaniel Garcia, 23, and Armand Padron, 30, both of Elizabeth.
Under the terms of the plea Garcia and Padron pled guilty to third hindering apprehension. After serving 491 days in jail, Garcia was sentenced to time served and placed on three years’ probation yesterday.
Padron is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday.
Assistant Prosecutor Wells said the state agreed to the plea because Mojica did not have a history of violent crime prior to this incident but said the 20-year sentence was the minimum needed to deter Mojica and others. Mojica has two prior drug convictions and one eluding conviction as an adult.
“The cowardly act of the defendant in choosing to use a gun to settle an argument is inexcusable, but this plea will allow Mr. Williams loved ones to move towards closure while incarcerating the defendant for a lengthy period of time,’’ Assistant Prosecutor Wells said.