A 40-year-old South Jersey man has been sentenced to 45 years in state prison in the fatal shooting of a barber who gave him a lift from a crash scene, authorities said.
Jule Hannah of Bridgeton was found guilty in July of first-degree murder and weapons charges by a Cumberland County Jury, according to Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae.
On Jan. 15, 2017, investigators with the Bridgeton Police Department were called out to 406 Spruce Street on a report of a one-car motor vehicle crash. Responding officers found Miguel "Chuito" Lopez Jr., 53, of Vineland, unresponsive in the front driver’s seat of the vehicle, Webb-McRae said.
Lopez had been shot four times and died on scene as a result of the gunshot wounds, the prosecutor said. Lopez was a barber who worked for Nick's Barber Shop in Vineland for many years.
A nine-month investigation was undertaken by investigators with the Bridgeton Police Department and Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office leading to Hannah's arrest, the prosecutor said.
The investigation found that Hannah was stranded in Monroe Township shortly before the fatal shooting after having been involved in a motor vehicle accident, she said.
A motive for the killing was never revealed.
Surveillance video from the crash scene showed a man in a camouflage coat exit the crashed car and limp from the scene. The way in which the man walked was a key piece of evidence in the state’s case against Hannah, prosecutors have said.
On the morning of the shooting, Lopez reportedly was driving from an Atlantic City casino to Monroe, where prosecutors said he ran into Hannah, who had just been in a single-car crash and needed a ride to Bridgeton.
Lopez, who did not know Hannah, allegedly took his offer of $100 for a lift which turned out to be fatal.
Hannah was additionally sentenced to 10 years in prison on each of two weapons offenses. Those sentences are to be served concurrently with the 45-year murder sentence, according to Webb-McRae.
Assistant Prosecutors Lesley Snock and Holly Fanelle handled the case.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.