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Elizabeth man beat neighbor, went home for gun, then killed him

Authorities said an Elizabeth man faces 30 years in prison for the 2016 slaying of his neighbor.
Authorities said an Elizabeth man faces 30 years in prison for the 2016 slaying of his neighbor. Photo Credit: Union County Prosecutor's Office

A 20-year-old Elizabeth resident pleaded guilty to fatally shooting his neighbor in a robbery nearly three years ago, the Union County Prosecutor's Office announced in late March. 

Jimmy Kearney was quickly identified as a suspect after the body of Robert Rouse, 61, was discovered in the 400 block of Walnut Street on Oct. 31, 2016. 

Authorities say Kearney followed Rouse and then attacked him, leaving Rouse lying in the street. Kearney ran to his home nearby to get a handgun, then returned to the spot where he left Rouse and shot him in the neck. Kearney removed Rouse's belongings from the body. 

Police searched Kearney's home, where they found Rouse's backpack and the murder weapon in Kearney's bedroom. Rouse's DNA was also found on Kearney's sneakers, authorities said. 

Kearney, who was arrested a few hours after killing Rouse, is scheduled to be sentenced in May. Prosecutors plan to request a sentence of 30 years and to ask that Kearney is denied parole until he has served the full term. 

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