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Robber Who Killed Vietnam Vet In Elizabeth Sentenced To 30 Years

Robert Rouse was shot and killed by a neighbor on Halloween 2016 as he was headed to work from his Elizabeth home.
Robert Rouse was shot and killed by a neighbor on Halloween 2016 as he was headed to work from his Elizabeth home. Photo Credit: Union County Prosecutor's Office

An Elizabeth man who shot and killed his neighbor during the course of a robbery on Halloween in 2016 must serve at least 30 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole, a judge in Union County Superior Court ruled Friday.

Jimmy Kearney, 20, assaulted 61-year-old Robert Rouse around 6 a.m. as Rouse, who served in the Marines in Vietnam, was headed to work from his home on Walnut Street.

As an injured Rouse lay on the street, Kearney got a .45-caliber handgun from his house and fatally shot Rouse in the neck before going through his pockets.

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office said the gun and a bloody backpack belonging to Rouse were later found in Kearney’s bedroom. Keaney pleaded guilty to felony murder in March.

“Mr. Rouse was a working man, a man doing everything he was supposed to be doing … (and) leading a productive life,” Assistant Prosecutor Armando Suarez said during Friday morning’s sentencing hearing. “And for a few dollars and a backpack with Mr. Rouse’s (personal items) and his lunch, that’s what he lost his life over. The lack of value for human life can’t be overstated.”

The prosecutor’s office said three members of Rouse’s family -- including his only child Robert, 35 -- also spoke at the sentencing. 

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