FREEHOLD – An 85-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in state prison for striking and killing a pedestrian with his vehicle a little less than three years ago, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.
Johnny Westbrook of Asbury Park was sentenced yesterday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor. He must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole, under the terms of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act.
Westbrook had pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter in July. During the plea hearing, Westbrook admitted that on Friday, December 21, 2018, he drove his 1998 Ford Explorer to a local store where the victim, 63-year old Daniel Rivera of Asbury Park, a fellow tenant in his building, had just gone.
Westbrook then waited outside the store in his vehicle for several minutes. At that point, he admitted, after Rivera left the store, he drove along a sidewalk, struck the victim, and dragged him several feet, before leaving Rivera in the roadway. Westbrook acknowledged that his actions resulted in the victim’s death.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department revealed that Westbrook and the victim had been involved in a physical altercation a little more than a month before the homicide due to Westbrook’s jealousy over the victim’s friendship with a woman. Westbrook immediately fled the scene after fatally striking Rivera with his vehicle and returned to his apartment. Police ultimately discovered Westbrook’s SUV parked a few hundred feet from the crime scene, with the victim’s blood and hair recovered from the vehicle’s undercarriage.
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The case was assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Cummings.
Westbrook was represented by Patrice Bearden, Esq., and Joshua Hood, Esq.