Elizabeth man sentenced to 37 years for kidnapping, attempted aggravated sexual assault

An Elizabeth man has been sentenced to 37 years in state prison for kidnapping a woman off the street and attempting to sexually assault her a little more than three years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Monday.

Wukeem W. Lewis, 57, must serve at least 85 percent of that term before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, according to the terms set down by state Superior Court Judge John Deitch.

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.

A Union County jury deliberated for several hours following a two-week trial presided over by state Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Donohue earlier this year before finding Lewis guilty of first-degree kidnapping, second-degree attempted aggravated sexual assault, and second-degree attempted sexual assault.

Deitch sentenced Lewis to 28 years for the kidnapping charge and 9 years for the attempted aggravated assault charge, with those two terms to run consecutively, plus an 8-year concurrent sentence on the attempted sexual assault.