PERTH AMBOY, NJ—Valentine's Day marked the third anniversary of a fatal shooting that claimed the life of a 31-year-old man who worked as a youth counselor.
Three years after the killing of Richard Pryce, his killer spent another Valentine's Day behind bars, his first since receiving a 60-year prison sentence in December.
Jahmmel Cephas was found guilty after a jury trial in August and September of last year for his involvement in the 2015 killing, which started with an argument between Cephas and Pryce at the 829 Lounge on Amboy Avenue in Perth Amboy.
The two men stepped outside and Pryce was shot multiple times near the Barclay Street intersection, before he returned to the bar and was rushed to a hospital by friends. He died later that night.
Superior Court Judge Colleen Flynn sentenced Cephas, a 35-year-old resident of the Franklin Park section of Franklin Township, to the lengthy prison term on December 21.
Cephas now stays at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and won't be eligible for parole until September 16, 2062, just over 55 years after he was found guilty by the jury on September 6.
The jury found Cephas guilty of aggravated manslaughter, and a number of other charges, according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (MCPO), including:
- unlawful possession of a handgun
- possession of a firearm with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another
- hindering his own apprehension
- tampering with physical evidence
- being a certain person prohibited from having a weapon
"Cephas had been previously convicted in 6 separate unrelated criminal cases, including a 2004 aggravated assault case in which he pointed a handgun at and pistol whipped the victim," according to the MCPO statement on his sentencing.
The "aggregate sentence" handed down includes 50 years in state prison for the aggravated manslaughter charge. That term is subject to the "No Early Release Act," which requires defendants to serve 85% of their prison term before becoming eligible for parole.
Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutors Brian Shevlin and Christopher Dize presented the State's case during the trial before Judge Flynn.
The MCPO statement also credited an "extensive investigation" by Sgt. Sandra Rivera of the Perth Amboy Police Department, former MCPO Detectives Jeffrey Temple and Kenneth Saunders, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.