Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Men get jail in contract killing of N.J. mom who witnessed shooting

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Two men were sentenced Thursday for their roles in the 2010 murder of an Egg Harbor City mother of two who had witnessed a shooting the year before.

Deanna Downs, 29, was shot in the head Oct. 16, 2010 behind her home in the Harbor City apartment complex. A resident walking to his mailbox discovered her body shortly after midnight.

Rafael Olmo, 31, Mario Adams, 32, and Dontay Matthews, 24, were charged in connection with Downs’ death after a six-month investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Egg Harbor City Police Department.

Prosecutors said Olmo paid Adams to kill Downs because she witnessed a shooting in her apartment complex that left one man dead and a second seriously injured Oct. 12, 2009.

Olmo was charged with aggravated assault and weapons offenses in connection with that case, which remains pending in court.

Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Kyran Connor on Thursday sentenced Olmo to life in prison without the possibility of parole for Downs’ murder.

Adams was sentenced to 15 years of prison, 12 years and nine months of which he must serve before becoming eligible for parole. 

“This case involved the execution of an innocent victim,” Judge Connor said in a statement.

Both Olmo and Adams were convicted March 17 of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit witness tampering and two counts of witness tampering employing force or threat of force.

An Atlantic County jury also found Olmo guilty of murder, procurement of murder and murder for the purpose of escaping punishment for another offense.

Matthews, who was tasked with watching Downs and contacting Adams when she was alone, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder. He was sentenced May 30 to 10 years of state jail time, 8 ½ years of which he must serve before becoming eligible for parole.

Olmo is also facing murder and weapons charges in connection with a third slaying that occurred Dec. 2, 2010, less than two months after Downs’ death.

In that case, 36-year-old Leandro Rodriguez, of Hackensack, was shot twice in the face and left in the backyard of a vacant Galloway Township home.


Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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