Elizabeth man sentenced to 52 years for fatal stabbing

An Elizabeth resident who stabbed a man to death in a nightclub parking lot in 2016 has been sentenced to 52 years in state prison for the crime, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Friday.

Rosendo Salomon Gomez-Serpas, 25, must serve nearly 49 years of that sentence before the possibility of parole under the terms set down by state Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch.

At approximately 4 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, 2016, members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to the Imperial Latino Lounge on the 600 block of New Point Road and found the body of 30-year-old Mario Ortiz of Elizabeth, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Benza, who prosecuted the case.

A fast-moving investigation involving the Union County Homicide Task Force and Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Unit, the Elizabeth Police Department, and the Union County Sheriff’s Office’s Crime Scene Unit revealed that an argument between Gomez-Serpas and Ortiz that started in the nightclub ultimately spilled into the parking lot, Benza said. At that time Gomez-Serpas produced a knife and inflicted a total of five stab wounds on Ortiz, including three defensive wounds to his hand, as well as a final strike to his chest that proved fatal.

Gomez-Serpas then fled the scene in a vehicle, but was located and arrested about 10 hours later at an apartment on the 500 block of Marshall Street in Elizabeth, after which he was lodged in Union County Jail on $1 million bail.  

Most of the encounter, including the fatal stabbing, was captured on nearby surveillance video. Ortiz’s blood was also recovered from the hat Gomez-Serpas was wearing when he was arrested, as well as from parts of the inside of his vehicle.

Last month Gomez-Serpas was convicted of murder and two related weapons offenses following a three-week trial before Judge Deitch and jury deliberations that took place over the course of two days.