By: Richard L. Smith
Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, announced that Superior Court Presiding Judge Mark S. Ali has handed down a life sentence to James Height, 54, for the fatal shooting of Renown Wilson, 55, of Orange. The verdict was reached on August 9, when a jury found Height guilty of several charges, including first-degree aggravated manslaughter, second-degree unlawful possession of a gun, and second-degree possession of a firearm for an illegal purpose. Height faced additional convictions in a subsequent proceeding, including possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.
Judge Ali ordered that the sentence for certain persons charges run consecutively to the life sentence, adding ten years with five years' parole ineligibility to Height's time in state prison.
Assistant Prosecutor F. Garnes, who prosecuted the case alongside Assistant Prosecutor Arrianna Diamantis, stated, "This senseless crime brought unnecessary suffering to Wilson's family and friends, who can now rest easier knowing that Height will never hurt them again."
The tragic events unfolded on June 24, 2021, when Height waited outside Wilson's Orange residence.
Upon Wilson's return home, Height shot him in the stomach, followed by a pursuit and another gunshot, grazing Wilson's neck.Despite their prior acquaintance and assistance, an argument had prompted Height to relocate to Salisbury, North Carolina. However, five months after leaving, Height returned to Orange and shot Wilson.
He was later apprehended at his Salisbury residence, but sadly, Wilson succumbed to his injuries on July 2, 2021.
At the time of the shooting, Height had been out of state prison for approximately a year after serving 25 years for aggravated manslaughter.
During sentencing, Judge Ali highlighted Height's apparent lack of deterrence from his lengthy prison stay.
The judge encouraged Height to spend the rest of his life counseling younger inmates to steer clear of criminal paths and make positive changes.
Assistant Prosecutor Diamantis noted, "Video evidence of the crime showcased the calculated nature of the act, and justice has undoubtedly been served."