MAYS LANDING May 29, 2015 – An Atlantic City man was sentenced today to 24 years in prison in connection with the 2012 shooting death of a 19-year-old Mays Landing man, Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced today.
This morning, Friday, May 29, 2015, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Albert J. Garofolo sentenced Hasan Bruce, 22, of the 600 block of North Indiana Avenue, Atlantic City, to 24 years of incarceration for shooting and killing Zachary Taylor, 19, of Mimosa Court, Mays Landing, on June 18, 2012 at the intersection of Michigan and McKinley Avenues in Atlantic City.
On June 18, 2012, Zackary Taylor was discovered on the 2000 block of McKinley Avenue in Atlantic City, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, where he later died of his wounds.
On September 28, 2012, following a three-month-long investigation, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Atlantic City Police Department charged, and arrested Hasan Bruce, then 19, and his brother Jamal Bruce, 21. The arrest was made without incident at their residence located on the 600 block of North Indiana Avenue. Both men were lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $1 million full cash bail.
On April 17, 2013, an Atlantic County Grand Jury indicted both men for murder, conspiracy and weapons offenses.
On May 21, 2015, Judge Garofolo, at the conclusion of a four-day bench trial, acquitted Jamal Bruce of the charges, and found his brother Hasan Bruce guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter and Unlawful Possession of a Handgun for the shooting death of Taylor.
Today, Judge Garofolo sentenced Hasan Bruce to 18 years of incarceration in New Jersey State prison on the conviction for the Aggravated Manslaughter charge, and an additional 6 years in prison for the unlawful handgun possession conviction, the sentences to be served consecutively. Judge Garofolo further ordered that Bruce receive 5 years of parole supervision upon his release.
Judge Garofolo also sentenced Bruce to 3 years in prison on an unrelated matter, in connection with an incident when Bruce was stopped by an Atlantic City Police officer one month after the killing of Zachary Taylor on July 19, 2012, for which Bruce was subsequently indicted for Obstruction of Law, Resisting Arrest, and Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Hasan Bruce pled guilty to Obstruction of Law, the prison sentence to be served concurrent with the sentence for the shooting of Taylor.
Bruce must serve 85% of the 18-year sentence before becoming eligible for parole, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA). Bruce must also serve 3 years of the 6- year handgun possession sentence, as mandated by the Graves Act. In sum, Hasan Bruce will not become eligible for parole until he has served 18 years, 3 months, and 18 days in prison.
Prior to sentencing, Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Buckley, who represented the State in the case, spoke to the need for deterrence, citing the defendant’s prior record, including, “an aggravated assault on a police officer just one month after shooting Taylor.” “The defendant will commit an offense again,” said Assistant Prosecutor Buckley.
Four family members of Zachary Taylor spoke at sentencing, his sister telling the court, “I’ll never get to see my brother again.” Taylor’s aunt told Judge Garofolo, “We will never have the chance to hold his child,” then “for Hasan to see 20 years in prison, he still sees a life, but the value of Zachary’s life can never be reflected in the sentence.”
Two of Zachary Taylor’s family members spoke to their sympathy for the defendant’s mother, an act that Judge Garofolo said afterward was “remarkable respect,” from “a family of a victim so gracious,” and described it as an example, and cause for hope.