Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pleasantville Man Sentenced to 30 years for Fatal Shooting of Somers Point Man in 2011

MAYS LANDING — A Pleasantville man has been sentenced to 30 years in state prison for the fatal shooting of a Somers Point man on Christmas Eve 2011, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced.
On Friday, March 14, 2014, Lenny R. Ross, Jr., 31, was sentenced to 30 years in New Jersey State Prison for causing the death of Steven Gurss, Jr., 28, of Somers Point. The sentencing followed a hearing in which Superior Court Judge Michael Donio denied a motion made by Ross on February 7th to withdraw the guilty plea he had entered a month before.

On December 24, 2011, police responded to the scene of a reported shooting outside the Marina Del Ray Apartments on Atlantic Avenue in Pleasantville. On arrival police discovered Steven Gurss in a vehicle suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. Gurss was transported to Atlanticare Regional Medical Center, City Campus, where he was pronounced dead the next morning.
The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, in concert with the Pleasantville Police Department, conducted the homicide investigation which resulted in the July 12, 2012 arrest of Lenny R. Ross, Jr. Ross was charged with the murder of Steven Gurss and associated weapons offenses: possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon by a convicted person.
The Atlantic City Police Department Special Investigations Unit and the Atlantic City Task Force assisted in the arrest, executed on the 1100 block of Baltic Avenue in Atlantic City. Ross was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $1 million full cash bail; he has remained in custody since the arrest.
On January 7th, Ross pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter. During the plea, Ross said that he met Gurss to sell him heroin, and that he fired the shot that killed Gurss in a dispute over money during the transaction.
Prior to the original scheduled sentencing, on February 7th, Ross requested to withdraw his guilty plea. Today Superior Court Judge Michael Donio heard arguments on the motion from the defense attorney and Chief Assistant Prosecutor Janet Gravitz, representing the State. Judge Donio denied Ross’s motion, citing that Ross had “knowingly and voluntarily entered the plea” and had provided “no colorable claim of innocence” or reasons to justify vacating the plea.
The sentencing portion of the proceeding followed, and the victim’s parents tearfully addressed the court and the defendant directly.
“You put a gun to my baby boy’s head. You killed a human being,” the victim’s mother told Ross.
“I feel that Lenny Ross should go away to jail for a long time,” the victim’s father told the Judge, before addressing Ross: “My grandson will never know his father.”
During sentencing, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Janet Gravitz recommended to Judge Donio the maximum term permitted for the charge, arguing that Ross continues to be a danger to the community as a violent drug dealer with prior convictions for selling drugs and carrying guns. “This defendant will certainly reoffend,” said Gravitz.
Judge Donio concurred, sentencing Ross to 30 years in prison, the maximum term allowed by law, citing the risk to the public of Ross as a “major drug dealer” with a “propensity for carrying weapons,” his record and the seriousness of his offenses, and the “need to deter this defendant and others who would, if they think themselves disrespected, take out a gun and shoot.”
Pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA), Ross must serve 85-percent of the 30-year sentence, or 25 and 6 months before becoming eligible for parole.
Teonka Williams, 28, of Pleasantville had pleaded guilty to hindering apprehension—a 3rd degree crime—for providing false information to authorities to hinder the apprehension of Lenny R. Ross, Jr., and was sentenced 3 years of probation.

Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609- 652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.


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