A 20-year-old man from Delaware was sentenced to 38 years in New Jersey State Prison for his role in a fatal pre-dawn robbery at a South Jersey blueberry farm, authorities said.
Kwamere Benjamin of New Castle, Delaware, was sentenced on Friday to 38 years in state prison by Judge Frederick J. Schuck, according to Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer and Winslow Township Police Chief George Smith.
Winslow police responded to the blueberry farm on the 700 block of Bairdmore Ave. shortly at 3:50 a.m. on June 25, 2017, on a report of a home invasion and shooting, Mayer and Smith said.
When patrol officers arrived, they found Deanna Marie Scordo, 45, of Winslow Township, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, they said. Scordo had been shot three times while she slept, police said.
A 9-1-1 call later obtained by Patch quoted Scordo's father telling the police dispatcher that two men wearing black hoods broke into the farmhouse, shot his daughter and left her dying in a corner. Scordo was pronounced dead shortly after the farmhouse invasion.
After an investigation led by CCPO Sgt. Christopher Sarson and Detective Matthew Barber alongside Winslow Police Detectives Nick Arnold and Darren Dogostino, investigators determined that Benjamin -- who was 17 at the time of crimes -- and Tyler Dralle, now 23, of Vineland in Cumberland County, were responsible for the crimes, authorities said.
During their six-week trial that began in November 2019 and ended in January. Acting Assistant Prosecutor Peter Gallagher represented the state and presented witnesses as well as forensic evidence tying both Benjamin and Dralle to the crime, according to Mayer and Smith.
Dralle, who played football at Buena Regional High School, had been driving his girlfriend and her brother to work at the blueberry farm for several weeks leading up to the crimes, according to court testimony and prior news reports. Dralle and Benjamin decided to target the farmhouse to steal cash and weapons, Gallagher said in court.
Both men were found guilty of felony murder on Jan. 23, 2020, they said.
“The facts of this crime were particularly shocking given that the assailants committed a home invasion in the middle of the night and shot a young woman in her bed with her elderly father inside the family home," Mayer said on Friday.
"The circumstances surrounding Deanna Gordo’s death are nothing short of tragic and our hearts go out to her family. Such a horrible offense warrants a strong and lengthy sentence like this one,” Mayer said. “Of course, this doesn’t bring Deanna back for her family, but we hope it brings some measure of justice for this heinous crime.”
Benjamin's co-defendant, Dralle, is set to be sentenced at a later date, authorities said.
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