Union County News

Plainfield Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2014 Killing Over Dice Game

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ELIZABETH, NJ — A Plainfield man who fatally shot an acquaintance over a game of dice has been sentenced to life in prison for the crime, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Johnathan Sylvester, who was 28 at the time of the killing of 24-year-old Rashawn Bryant, was sentenced Friday by state Superior Court Judge Frederic McDaniel.

At approximately 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, Bryant and several friends were rolling dice on the 300 block of Evona Avenue in Plainfield, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who prosecuted the case. Following an argument, Sylvester allegedly entered his nearby home, returned a short while later, produced a handgun, and fired several shots at Bryant, Spagnoli said.

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Bryant was struck by gunfire and was transported via medical helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was pronounced dead early the next day.

An investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Task Force, Plainfield Police Division, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit quickly resulted in Sylvester being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested several days later and lodged in Union County Jail on $1 million bail.

Sylvester was indicted in January 2015, and following a six-week trial before Judge McDaniel, a jury deliberated for portions of three days in May 2017 before delivering guilty verdicts on charges of murder and two weapons offenses.

Members of Bryant’s family attended Friday’s sentencing, and the victim’s father entered a statement into the record. 

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