Linden man sentenced to 18 years on gun convictions

A Linden man has been sentenced to 18 years in state prison after being convicted on gun charges last year, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.

Malik Welch, 33, was sentenced Friday by state Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan.

It was approximately 9:30 p.m. on October 30, 2012 when Linden Police Department officers enforcing a citywide curfew due to the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy spotted Welch walking on Bower Street with an open can of beer, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Armando Suarez, who prosecuted the case.

The officers identified themselves as police and approached Welch, at which time he immediately dropped the can of beer and ran up a driveway and into the backyard of a nearby house, ignoring the officers’ orders to stop, Suarez said.

After a short chase, the officers caught up to Welch in the backyard and a struggle ensued. Once the officers were able to arrest Welch, they recovered a loaded handgun magazine on the ground and a fully loaded 9mm Ruger handgun from a pocket of Welch’s jacket. 

Following a three-day trial and less than an hour of deliberations taking place in July 2015, a Union County jury returned guilty verdicts against Welch on charges of second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun and fourth-degree resisting arrest. Later that same day, Welch was tried before the same jury and was found guilty of second-degree certain persons not to have weapons. 

Welch was sentenced to 10 years in state prison on the gun possession charge and 8 years on the certain persons (gun possession by a convicted felon) offense, with those two terms to be served consecutively, plus 18 months on the resisting charge, to be served concurrently. He must serve at least 10 years of the 18-year combined sentence before becoming eligible for parole.