Plainfield man convicted on all charges for 2014 homicide

A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts against a Plainfield man charged with fatally shooting an acquaintance over a game of dice, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Friday.

Johnathan Sylvester, who was 28 at the time of the killing of 24-year-old Rashawn Bryant, was convicted on charges of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

At approximately 5:15 p.m. on Friday, August 22, 2014, Bryant and several friends were rolling dice in front of a home on the 300 block of Evona Avenue in Plainfield, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa Spagnoli, who prosecuted the case. Following an argument, Sylvester allegedly entered his home, then returned a short while later, produced a handgun, and fired several shots at Bryant, Spagnoli said.

Bryant was struck by gunfire and was transported via medical helicopter to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was pronounced dead early the next day. An investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office’s Homicide Task Force, Plainfield Police Division, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit quickly resulted in Sylvester being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested several days later and lodged in Union County Jail on $1 million bail.

Sylvester was indicted in January 2015, and following a six-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Frederic McDaniel, the jury deliberated for portions of three days before delivering its verdict on Thursday.

Sylvester had six prior indictable convictions on a range of offenses prior to Bryant’s death. Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, June 23, 2017 before Judge McDaniel, at which time Sylvester will face a term of up to life in state prison.