Sunday, February 6, 2011

Man who shot to death mother of his kids sentenced to at least 75 years

A man who shot and killed his baby's momma in from of her kids in a Montclair, NJ YMCA was sentenced to 75 years to life in a New Jersey Superior courtroom on February 1, 2011. Judge Joseph Cassini III sentenced 39 year old Kenneth Duckett of Orange, NJ to the term saying that innocent people are killed every day, and citing Duckett's numerous felony arrests (22 priors) and convictions (six priors) in New Jersey and North Carolina. The 917 days Duckett spent in custody was credited towards his sentence.

Duckett was on trial for a month and found guilty - just two days before Christmas - for the slaying of Monica Paul, 31, of Montclair. Duckett gunned down Paul, the mother of his two children, on June 26, 2008 inside the YMCA Family Center on Glenridge Avenue. Their 10-year-old daughter, Essence, was near and their 4-year-old son, Noah, was swimming in the facility's indoor pool. Paul was in an observation room watching the lesson.

A quarrel ensued between Paul and Duckett, leading to the shooting.

About 15 family members and friends were in the courtroom today to hear the sentence. As Duckett was led out of the courtroom by Essex County Sheriff's officers, he made a hand gesture and nodded to a handful of his friends also in the room.

Duckett, wearing a green prison jumpsuit and a yellow and orange knit hat, apologized to his son Noah, Paul's father, Lionel Paul, and her cousin, Greg Paul.

Before sentencing, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Rachel Gran said "The crime is not a peaceful act, or hope for a peaceful world."  The prosecutor went on to say that when Paul was killed in front of her daughter, he brought an "enormous" gun and held the entire Y hostage. After sentencing, Gran said "We believe the sentence imposed by Judge Cassini was absolutely appropriate given the horrific nature of the crime. Mr. Duckett brutally murdered Ms. Paul in a crowded YMCA while innocent children and their parents gathered for learning and recreation.''

"While we know the sentence will never bring back Ms. Paul, who left behind two lovely children, we hope the family will be comforted in some small measure by the fact that the justice system worked well in this case,'' said Assistant Prosecutor Gina Iosim.

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