Prosecutor: Beverly City man sentenced to 50 years for Florence homicide

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Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced in a statement on Dec. 26 that a Beverly City resident, who was convicted of fatally shooting a man in Florence Township two years ago, has been sentenced to 50 years in a New Jersey state prison.

Anthony Harris, 32, of Beverly City, was sentenced on Dec. 20 by Judge Charles A. Delehey, J.S.C.

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Officials said a jury found Harris guilty in October of aggravated manslaughter (first degree), possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (second degree), and unlawful possession of a weapon (second degree).

According to the No Early Release Act, Harris must serve 42 years and six months in prison before becoming eligible for parole.

The investigation revealed that on the evening of Sept. 21, 2016, a group of people from Beverly City went to Florence and began fighting with residents in the area of Zinc Street, which is an alley that runs between Second and Third streets.

Officials reported that Harris pulled a handgun, began shooting and struck Ronald Walker, 27, of Florence, where he was then transported to Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro and pronounced dead.

An autopsy performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood determined that Walker died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

“This is a just and appropriate sentence,” Coffina said. “While it will not bring Mr. Walker back to his family, it demonstrates that the criminal justice system understands the evil, unjustifiable act committed by this defendant, and the tragedy that resulted. Burlington County residents deserve to be able to feel safe in their neighborhoods without the threat of senseless, reckless violence.”

According to Coffina’s statement, the trial that resulted in the guilty verdict was the second time Harris has been tried for Walker’s death after Judge Delehey declared a mistrial following the first trial in June when the jury indicated it could not reach a unanimous verdict on a murder charge.

Officials said a grand jury returned a new indictment charging Harris with aggravated manslaughter and the weapons charges on Sept. 25.

“This case presented several challenges that were effectively overcome by those involved with our efforts to seek justice,” Coffina said. “I commend Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Douglas J. Bligh for his skillful prosecution, and the tenacity of the detectives from our office and the Florence Police Department whose investigation produced the evidence needed to gain this conviction.”

The case was investigated by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Florence Township Police Department. The lead investigators were BCPO Major Crimes Unit Detective Nick Villano and Florence Police Detective Chris Powell.

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