After nearly three years, justice has been served.
Joseph Micalizzi, a third-year mechanical engineering student and member of NJIT’s Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter, was fatally shot in an attempted robbery on May 2, 2016. Two men broke into the fraternity house located on Dr. MLK Blvd. at approximately 3:15 a.m. to rob students. Micalizzi was shot in the head and one his hands while attempting to fight off the intruders. He was taken to University Hospital and pronounced dead at 5:02 a.m.
The men, Taquan Harris, 24, of Newark, and Nafee Cotman, 21, of Irvington, were indicted on charges of murder, felony murder, robbery, burglary, and weapons offenses. A press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office reported that Harris admitted to shooting Micalizzi three times during plea hearings in October 2018. Cotman pleaded guilty to robbing Micalizzi, and said he tried to take Micalizzi’s belongings during the incident.
Under terms of a plea agreement, Harris pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter and illegal possession of a weapon; the murder count was dismissed, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. Cotman pled guilty to one count of first-degree armed robbery. All other charges were dismissed.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, Harris was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the death of Micalizzi, and Cotman was sentenced to 12 years.
According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Harris attempted to withdraw his plea prior to sentencing on Thursday. Judge Ronald D. Wigler rejected the motion, ruling that Harris “knowingly and voluntarily entered the guilty plea”.
Under the No Early Release Act, both Harris and Cotman must serve at least 85% of their sentences—at least 22 years for Harris and 10 years for Cotman—before they will eligible for parole.