TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced that an Atlantic City man has pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter for his role in an armed robbery in 2007 on the White Horse Pike during which a gas station owner was fatally shot.
Darrick Hudson, 22, of Atlantic City, pleaded guilty yesterday before Superior Court Judge Bernard E. DeLury Jr. in Atlantic County to aggravated manslaughter, robbery, and hindering apprehension or prosecution. He was about to go on trial. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend a sentence of 25 years in state prison, including 21 years of parole ineligibility under the No Early Release Act. Judge DeLury scheduled sentencing for Nov. 16.
In pleading guilty, Hudson admitted to participating in the robbery on March 9, 2007, at the AAR gas station and mini-mart on the White Horse Pike in Atlantic City. The owner, Makhan Singh, 47, was fatally shot and an attendant, Tanzi Zepa, was wounded. Hudson said the reckless discharge of a co-conspirator’s handgun caused the death of Singh. He admitted, however, that when the co-conspirator dropped the gun used to kill Singh inside the mini mart, he picked up the gun so that it would not be recovered by law enforcement and used as evidence in the prosecution of the murder.
Deputy Attorney General Kerry DiJoseph took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice. The case was investigated by the Atlantic City Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and Division of Criminal Justice.
“This accomplice faces a sentence of at least 21 years in prison without parole for his role in this senseless murder,” said Attorney General Chiesa “Previously, a co-defendant was sentenced to 40 years in prison, including 30 years without parole, for felony murder. I commend the officers, investigators and attorneys who have steadfastly pursued justice in this case.”
“This guilty plea and the prior successful prosecutions of four co-defendants are a testament to the outstanding teamwork of members of the Division of Criminal Justice, Atlantic City Police Department and Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Stephen J. Taylor, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice.
On Oct. 15, 2010, a co-defendant, Nasir Salaam, 22, of Galloway Township, was sentenced to 40 years in state prison, including 30 years without possibility of parole, by Judge DeLury. Salaam pleaded guilty to felony murder in August 2010 as he was about to go on trial for a second time. Salaam had already been convicted at trial in May 2009 of charges related to the robbery, as well as conspiracy to distribute cocaine, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the felony murder charge.
Salaam, Hudson and a third man, all teenagers at the time, committed the robbery while armed with at least two handguns. They were assisted by two other teenagers who drove them to the gas station. Salaam admitted that, during the robbery, he brandished a handgun and demanded money from two attendants who were outside the mini-mart. Salaam admitted that, after hearing gunfire in the mini-mart, he fired a shot at one of the attendants, Zepa, who tried to flee, wounding him, and fired two shots at the mini-mart, where his two accomplices were robbing the owner at gunpoint.
Another defendant, Basir Biggins, 22, of Atlantic City pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2008 to three counts of first-degree robbery. He admitted that he provided one of the handguns used in the robbery. Biggins was sentenced on March 26, 2010 to 12 years in prison, including 10 years of parole ineligibility.
The two individuals who drove the robbers to the gas station, Gina McCrosson and Tyler Hart, pleaded guilty in January 2009 to conspiracy to possess cocaine and hindering apprehension, in exchange for recommended sentences of eight years in prison. Hart was sentenced on March 26, 2010 to eight years in prison. McCrosson is awaiting sentencing.