A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts against an Elizabeth man who kidnapped and attempted to sexually assault a woman before a bystander intervened, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.
Wukeem W. Lewis, 57, was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree attempted aggravated sexual assault, and second-degree attempted sexual assault after several hours of jury deliberation following a two-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue.
The date was September 15, 2013 when Lewis attacked the victim on the 500 block of Westminster Avenue in Elizabeth as she walked home from a night work shift at approximately 6 a.m., according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Barnes, who prosecuted the case. Lewis subsequently dragged the woman a short distance to an area in front of an abandoned home, restrained her, and attempted to sexually assault her before a concerned citizen intervened, prompting him to flee the scene, Barnes said.
An intensive joint investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit and the Elizabeth Police Department resulted in Lewis being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested in December 2013, with bail set at $300,000.
Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for June 17, at which time Lewis could face sentences of 15 to 30 years on the kidnapping charge and 5 to 10 years on each of the attempted sexual assault charges, with 85 percent of the overall sentence required to be served before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.