MAYS LANDING — Lorenzo Carter was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday, more than 32 years after he killed one man and wounded another in Atlantic City.
Carter, now 54, was a fugitive for nearly three decades before he was arrested in New York two years ago. He went on trial in May, but on the second day, he admitted firing into a parked car in Atlantic City on March 29,1980, killing Everton Kelly, 26, and wounding William John Sessoms.
Sessoms was scheduled to testify May 17, but Carter instead confessed to the crimes. Under the plea agreement, he received eight years for aggravated assault and 12 years for aggravated manslaughter.
But Carter told Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor on Thursday that he missed a better deal in September, when he was offered 12 years.
In a letter to the judge, Carter indicated his lawyer wanted trial only to get money. But in the courtroom he said he had spoken with defense attorney Jason Foy, who told him Carter’s family never indicated the defendant wanted to take the deal.
In fact, Foy said Carter wanted nothing less than a single-digit sentence and that — despite the attorney explaining that the time served would likely be less than 10 years — Carter insisted he didn’t want to take the deal.
“My client indicated to me every day before he took the deal that he was innocent,” Foy told Connor on Thursday.
On May 17, Carter admitted he was not.
“It’s an ending to a story that began long, long ago,” Connor said after the sentencing. “It was decades in the unfolding and coming to fruition.”
He called the final justice for Kelly’s death “a sign of our civilized form of government.”
“This is Mr. Kelly’s moment,” he said.
Carter indicated he would appeal the judge’s ruling not to suppress certain evidence, which had played a part in his decision to plead.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Chet Wiech said he was not worried that anything would be overturned.
“I thought all Judge Connor’s rulings were correct,” he said.
Carter will get credit for 851 days of time served. Because he was sentenced under the law in 1980, when the crime was committed, he is not held to the No Early Release Act, which requires 85 percent of a sentence be served before he is eligible for parole. He must serve less than seven more years before he is eligible for release. He then could face deportation back to his native Jamaica.
Contact Lynda Cohen:
Follow Lynda Cohen on Twitter @LyndaCohen