ELIZABETH, NJ - A Plainfield resident has been sentenced to life in prison for the violent October 2013 robbery and beating of a city store owner.

Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday that James Knight Jr., 59, was sentenced after being convicted of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree robbery, two counts of aggravated assault, and two related weapons offenses following a three-week trial and several hours of jury deliberation last fall.  

Knight entered Alondra’s Variedades convenience store in the 300 block of Park Avenue in Plainfield on the afternoon of Oct. 5, 2013, and asked the lone employee in the store, its then-52-year-old owner, to see a bottle of cologne on a shelf, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor David Zeitzoff, who prosecuted the case. When she retrieved the bottle and turned to face him again, Knight had a firearm pointed directly at her, Zeitzoff said.

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According to the release from the Union County Prosecutor's Office, "Knight then discharged a single round into the left side of the store owner’s chest. The gun jammed as Knight attempted to fire at her again, after which he struck her with the firearm, then beat her over the head with a chair before attempting to flee the area.
The victim subsequently was rushed to a local hospital, where she received lifesaving medical attention.

"Guided by eyewitnesses, arriving Plainfield Police Division patrol units arrested Knight minutes later as he hid between boxes at another nearby store he had entered to avoid detection. Officers also later retrieved the handgun used in the robbery and uncovered surveillance video evidence from a nearby store."