FREEHOLD: A Neptune man convicted in February for his role in the 2008 murder of an Eatontown man was sentenced Friday to 40 years in a New Jersey state prison, announced Acting Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Lashawn Fitch, 23, was sentenced to 40 years in a New Jersey state prison by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English, J.S.C., who presided over the trial. The 40-year sentence is subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), requiring he must serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed, or 34 years, before he is eligible for parole.
On February 18, 2014, a Monmouth County jury found Fitch guilty in connection with the 2008 murder of 24-year-old Nathaniel Wiggins, of Eatontown. Fitch was convicted of Felony Murder, Conspiracy to Commit Armed Robbery, Armed Robbery, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.
Eatontown Police Department responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired at 264 Route 35 in the borough around 10:15 p.m. on March 11, 2008. Police officers arrived on scene to find Wiggins lying on the floor of his second floor apartment with a serious gunshot wound. Patrol units summoned the Eatontown First Aid Squad and MonOc paramedics to the scene and transported Wiggins to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, in Neptune Township, where he was pronounced dead at 5:36 a.m. on March 12, 2008.
According to evidence presented during this case and statements made in court, Fitch, along with brothers Tahj J. Pines and Aron T. Pines, both of Neptune, and Kenneth M. Bacon-Vaughters, of Asbury Park, traveled together in a motor vehicle to Wiggins’ Eatontown apartment intending to rob him. Once they arrived at Wiggins’ apartment, three of the four men, including Fitch, exited the motor vehicle and approached the apartment, while the fourth man remained in the driver’s seat of the vehicle in order to facilitate a quick getaway after the robbery.
Bacon-Vaughters knocked on Wiggins’ door and the victim, recognizing Bacon-Vaughters, opened the door believing he was alone. Tahj Pines and Fitch, both of whom were wearing masks, were outside the door. One of the three men then brandished a handgun and ultimately shot Wiggins, causing his death. The three men then fled from the scene in the waiting vehicle.
Fitch was the fourth man to stand trial in this case.
On March 24, 2011, Bacon-Vaughters was convicted of felony murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. On June 10, 2011, Judge English sentenced him to 40 years imprisonment with an 85 percent period of parole ineligibility.
On February 7, 2012, Aron Pines was convicted of conspiracy to commit second-degree robbery and second-degree robbery. On May 4, 2012, Judge English sentenced him to 8 years imprisonment with an 85% period of parole ineligibility.
On December 21, 2012, Tahj J. Pines was convicted of felony murder, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. On May 13, 2013, Judge English sentenced him to 50 years imprisonment with an 85 percent period of parole ineligibility.
The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Christopher J. Decker and Christopher Matthews. Fitch represented himself at trial with the assistance of standby counsel, Theodore Campbell, Esq., of New Brunswick.