The Rahway man who murdered a local taxi driver during the course of a botched armed robbery in 2015, causing a motor vehicle collision that cost a young woman her lower leg, has been sentenced to 58 years in state prison for the crime, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Friday.
Nathaniel Young Jr., 23, must serve at least 85 percent of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the terms set down by state Superior Court Judge Lisa Miralles Walsh.
Shortly before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25, 2015, Rahway Police Department patrol units were called to the 1400 block of Bedford Street in Rahway, according to Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr., who prosecuted the case. At that location, arriving officers found the body of Imad Alasmar, 57, of Edison, still in his taxi, a Ford Crown Victoria, Cernadas said.
Immediately following the shooting, Alasmar’s vehicle traveled a short distance down the street and collided with a parked Ford Fusion, resulting in serious injuries to a boyfriend and girlfriend who had been seated inside, talking. The female’s injuries, which included numerous bone fractures, were so serious they necessitated 15 surgeries and the eventual amputation of her lower leg.
A joint investigation involving the Union County Homicide Task Force, Rahway Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit revealed that Young had shot Alasmar twice during the course of the robbery, including one round to the head that killed him.
Investigators recovered the .45-caliber handgun used in the crime from the taxi’s deployed and deflated airbag, then found Young’s DNA and fingerprint on the weapon’s body and trigger, respectively. Cell phone records showed that Young traveled from Newark to Rahway that night, calling Alasmar’s taxi company 10 minutes before the shooting, then left the area immediately thereafter.
Victim statements from several of Alasmar’s 10 children, his widow, his brother, and others were read into the record during sentencing, when the injured female victim also spoke and described a long and painful recovery that cost her her job, prevented her from engaging in her favorite hobbies, and set back her schooling. Cernadas then described how Young eluded police in Essex and Somerset counties on two separate occasions on the days immediately following the murder, in the former case striking a 79-year-old pedestrian who was out walking her dog with his vehicle, sending her into a coma.
“This defendant is a human tornado,” Cernadas said. “He leaves in the wake of his path nothing but death and destruction.”
In October a Union County jury convicted Young on charges including first-degree murder, first-degree felony murder, first-degree robbery, a second-degree weapons offense, and second-degree aggravated assault following a seven-week trial before Walsh and several hours of jury deliberation spread over two days. On Friday Walsh ordered that Young serve his murder and aggravated assault sentences consecutively and his other sentences concurrently.
“This was a completely senseless act of violence,” she said, “and an absolutely horrific crime.”