The Pennsylvania man who murdered 16-yearold Alishia Colon in her Belgrove Drive home in 2013 was sentenced Friday to life in prison by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Martha Royster.
According to published reports, killer Cruz Martinez, 44, will be eligible for parole. In 63 years. When he is 107 years old.
In May, a jury convicted Cruz of the execution-style murder of the Kearny girl, who was shot in the head as she sat watching television in her bedroom with her 7-year-old brother on Jan. 17, 2013.
Authorities believed the crime was a revenge killing in response to an ongoing dispute between gang members and members of the Colon family. But Alishia, a student at Kearny High School, had no connection whatsoever with any dispute.
Earlier on the day of the murder, Kearny police responded to a street fight on Belgrove Drive reportedly involving some of the victim’s relatives. Several hours later, Martinez went to the Colon residence apparently “to send a message.”
Alishia and her brother were home alone when the triggerman broke down the apartment door. The boy witnessed the murder but was not physically harmed by the gunfire. Now 9, he testified at Martinez’ trial.
Asked if the man who shot his sister was in the courtroom, “the boy, who had identified the suspect from a photo array he was shown two days after the shooting, stood up and pointed to Martinez while breaking down, crying,” Assistant Hudson County Prosecutor Sal Rozzi said.
It was “the most dramatic episode I’ve seen in my 20 years as a prosecutor,” Rozzi told The Observer.
Martinez, of Hazleton, Pa., was arrested in his home state two days after the murder.
Three co-defendants — Kyeeth L. Smith, 21, of Willingboro; Lamar D. Farrar, 22, of East Orange; and Eric L. Shelton, 19, of Orange – were subsequently arrested by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with the case. They have all pleaded guilty to various lesser charges and will be sentenced Aug. 14.