An Essex County man has been sentenced to 33 years in state prison for robbing a woman at gunpoint in Elizabeth in 2014, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.
In October 2015 a Union County jury convicted Diken Michelle, 30, of East Orange on charges including first-degree robbery, related weapons and theft offenses, and a second-degree charge of certain persons not to own firearms following a two-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan and several hours of jury deliberation spread out over two days. Moynihan on Friday sentenced Michelle to 25 years for the robbery and related offenses, plus eight years on the certain persons charge, with the two terms to be served consecutively.
At least 85 percent of the 25-year term and at least five years of the eight-year term also must be served before Michelle becomes eligible for parole.
The date was January 26, 2014 when the victim parked her car on Bayway Avenue in Elizabeth, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Armando Suarez and Michael D’Agostino, who prosecuted the case. While gathering her belongings in her vehicle, a man approached, brandished a handgun, and demanded her personal effects.
The woman handed over items including her purse, cell phone, makeup case, a duffel bag, and her car keys, after which Michelle fled the scene. A bystander who witnessed the crime then approached the victim and immediately called 911.
Responding Elizabeth Police Department patrol units used the “Find my iPhone” app to trace the victim’s cell phone to a location on the 300 block of South Front Street in Elizabeth, where they found Michelle and arrested him shortly thereafter. The victim subsequently identified Michelle as the person responsible for the robbery, and her personal belongings were recovered from the defendant’s nearby parked vehicle.
The next day, police performing a search of the area recovered a handgun matching the description of that used in the robbery in a snowbank, not far from where Michelle and his vehicle were found.