Hillside man convicted of 2012 murder

ELIZABETH — A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts against a Hillside man for shooting two people, one fatally, four years ago, Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced.

Jonathan James, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes following a three-week trial before state Superior Court Judge Scott Moynihan.

On March 23, 2012, in the area of 649 Carteret Street in Elizabeth, James murdered Orlando Hernandez with a single gun-shot to the head and injured Antonio Hernandez, who is not related, with shots to the back and arm, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Jillian Reyes and Armando Suarez, who prosecuted the case.

On the night in question, Elizabeth Police officers while on patrol in the area of the 600 block of Carteret Street heard gunshots. The officers immediately responded, and with the assistance of other officers gave chase and apprehended James.

James was initially charged with two counts of second-degree aggravated assault and weapons offenses as Orlando Hernandez had not succumbed to his injuries. Upon Orlando Hernandez’s death and as a result of a joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, the Elizabeth Police Department and assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office Identification Unit, James was charged with murder, and attempted murder.

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for June 3, before Moynihan. Convictions on first-degree murder charges are commonly punishable by 30 years to life in state prison.