Pair Admit Roles in Gang-Related Homicide of Teen in Elizabeth
Two men have admitted to playing a role in a gang-related shooting that took the life of a teenager in Elizabeth a little more than three years ago, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Monday.
Officials said Felix Rivera, 19, and 22-year-old Juan Barraza each pleaded guilty before state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch to a charge of first-degree aggravated manslaughter in connection with the death of 18-year-old Oscar Antonio Martinez-Alvarez.
According to authorities, on April 22, 2015, Elizabeth Police Department patrol units found the body of Martinez-Alvarez near a stretch of railroad tracks close to the 300 block of Court Street in Elizabeth, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert, who is prosecuting the case.
Police said Alvarez was pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered multiple gunshot wounds, Ruppert said.
An investigation involving the Union County Homicide Task Force, the Elizabeth Police Department, and the Union County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Unit resulted in Rivera, Barraza, and 19-year-old Juan Delgado, all confirmed MS-13 gang members, being identified as suspects in the case, and Barazza and Delgado were arrested without incident at their Elizabeth homes on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Rivera was apprehended in Virginia a short time later and extradited back to New Jersey.
Officials said Rivera and Delgado were both 16-year-old juveniles at the time of the shooting, but were waived up to be tried as adults. All three were indicted in May 2017.
Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday May 4, 2018 before Judge Kirsch, and the State intends to request sentences of 25 years in state prison for each defendant, with 85 percent of the terms to be served before the possibility of parole under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.