Plainfield man sentenced to life in prison for shooting, beating store owner during violent 2013 robbery

A Plainfield man who shot and beat a store owner during the course of a violent robbery a little more than two years ago has been sentenced to life in prison for the crime, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

James Knight Jr., 59, was sentenced Friday by state Superior Court Judge Robert J. Mega. In November 2015 Knight had been 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.    

It was approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 5, 2013 when Knight entered Alondra’s Variedades convenience store on the 300 block of Park Avenue in Plainfield 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.

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.