NEWARK, NJ — On Aug. 12, John Searles, 23, of Edison, was sentenced to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison by Superior Court Judge Verna Leath after an Essex County jury convicted him of first-degree attempted murder and weapons offenses, according to acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II.
Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Faloyin, who tried the case, said, “We are pleased the judge sentenced this defendant to the maximum allowed by law because his conduct shows he poses a threat to the community.”
Under the No Early Release Act, Searles must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
The case arises from events that occurred on Sept. 22, 2016. West Orange police were dispatched to a home on Lowell Place with a report of a shooting in progress. Once on the scene they discovered a man bleeding, suffering from numerous abrasions but no gunshot wounds.
The victim informed detectives that he had arrived home from his daughter’s back-to-school night event and drove his vehicle into the attached garage of his home. As he approached the front door of his residence, a male with a ski mask appeared from his driveway, ran toward him and fired multiple times at him. The victim ran at the suspect, tackled the suspect in the driveway of his residence and the two fought.
During the altercation, the victim was able to grab a silver 9mm Ruger from the suspect and threw it into his rear yard. Police recovered the gun, as well as a bullet fragment and a 9mm live round. During the fight, a second unknown male approached both parties and attempted to separate them. After a short period of time, the suspect and the second unknown male fled in a black Nissan Altima.
The incident was captured on a surveillance camera and Searles’ DNA was on the victim’s clothing. In June an Essex County jury found Searles guilty on all counts — first-degree attempted murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and fourth-degree possession of a defaced firearm.