Two sentenced to combined 95 years in prison for 2011 Elizabeth homicide

The two men responsible for the fatal shooting of an Elizabeth man outside a nightclub in 2011 have been sentenced to a combined 95 years in state prison, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.

Jamil Hearns, who was 32 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to 45 years and Joey Fowler, who was 33, was sentenced to 50 years by state Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim, who also ruled Friday that 85 percent of those terms will be required to be served before either man becomes eligible for parole.

In June, a Union County jury had required approximately four hours of deliberation following a five-week trial before finding Hearns and Fowler guilty of killing 32-year-old Donnell Johnson.

It was approximately 2:45 a.m. on March 5, 2011 when shots rang out near the AllStar Nightclub in the area of Court and 3rd streets in Elizabeth, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr., who prosecuted the case. Elizabeth Police Department Detective Jim Malone was on patrol in the vicinity and arrived at the shooting scene within seconds, pulling over the vehicle in which Hearns and Fowler were traveling and recovering the handgun that was used in the shooting, Cernadas said.

Johnson was rushed to a local hospital but died shortly thereafter, and a swift-moving joint investigation involving the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Homicide Task Force led to charges being filed against Hearns and Fowler. The investigation determined that the fatal shooting of Johnson was carried out in retaliation following a January 2011 physical altercation between Johnson, Fowler, and several other men.