A defendant who previously pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of an Elizabeth man has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the crime, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel, Elizabeth Police Director Earl Graves and Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca jointly announced today.
Ronald Santiago, Jr., 25 of Elizabeth, must serve at least eighty-five percent of the 25-year term before becoming eligible for parole, according to terms handed down on December 10th by State Superior Court Judge John Deitch.
During the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 4, 2019, Elizabeth Police Department patrol units responded to a report of a shooting at the community pool area of the Mravlag Manor housing complex. There they found 27 year-old Alphonso James suffering from what was later determined to be eleven gunshot wounds, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Grady, who prosecuted the case. James was pronounced dead a little more than half an hour later, Grady said. The crime was caught on surveillance cameras, and a joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit quickly resulted in Santiago being identified as a suspect in the case. Santiago was arrested on the same morning of the shooting. Detectives later uncovered blood-stained evidence, containing the victim’s DNA, in an apartment in which Santiago was staying, Grady added. Santiago ultimately confessed to shooting James.
Santiago was indicted by a Union County Grand Jury in August of 2019 and pled guilty before Judge Deitch in October of this year. At that time, he also pled guilty to possessing a handgun for an unlawful purpose for which he was sentenced to 5 years, during which he must serve 42 months before being eligible for parole on that charge.
“We are grateful for the collaboration with our partner law enforcement agencies who worked with our Office in bringing Mr. Santiago to justice,” Prosecutor Daniel said. “And we hope his conviction and sentence can bring some small measure of comfort to all those grieving Mr. James.”