Because he and a partner shot two robbery victims dead, then torched their bodies in a car owned by "Real Housewives of New Jersey" guest Kim DePaola, a Paterson man must turn 96 years old before even having a shot at parole.
Superior Court Judge Adam E. Jacobs issued what amounts to a lifetime prison sentence for Gerry Thomas on Friday for the felony murders of Aaron Anderson, 27, and 25-year-old Anthony Vega Jr. on March 17, 2017.
Jurors convicted Thomas in March following a two-week trial.
Jacobs sentenced him in Paterson to 40 years back-to-back for committing each murder during another crime, then folded a six-year sentence for aggravated arson and a three-year term for drug distribution into the 80-year stretch.
Under New Jersey’s Early Release Act, Thomas has to serve 85% of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
Thomas and Clarence Williams shot the victims in their double-parked car on East 28th Street in Paterson , then went to a local Walgreens, bought lighter fluid and used it to torch the vehicle, prosecutors told jurors.
The victims' bodies were found burned beyond recognition after city firefighters extinguished the blaze, they said.
The car turned out to belong to DePaola, who knew both men. She said at the time that she'd registered it for her son, who knew them, as well.
Williams faces a separate trial scheduled to begin on Sept. 5.
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