Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that Kenneth A. Duckett, 39, of Orange was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Monica Paul, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his two children.
On June 26, 2008, Duckett walked into the Montclair YMCA, where scores of children were swimming and playing, and opened fire on Ms. Paul in the presence of their 11-year-old daughter. He shot the 31-year-old Montclair mother six times as she watched their six-year-old son swim. Ms. Paul was waiting for her son in an observation area of the YMCA, where parents gather while their children are swimming, when she was shot.
Today the Honorable Joseph Cassini, 3rd, J.S.C. sentenced Duckett to life, requiring him to serve 75 years before he will be eligible for parole. The judge said he imposed the lengthy sentence because of the nature and circumstances of the crime and Duckett’s extensive criminal record. Duckett had six prior indictable offenses as an adult in New Jersey and North Carolina, the judge noted at sentencing.
An Essex County jury convicted Duckett of murder on Dec. 23, 2010. Prior to sentencing Judge Cassini refused to grant a motion for a new trial filed by the defense attorney.
“We believe the sentence imposed by Judge Cassini was absolutely appropriate given the horrific nature of the crime. Mr. Duckett brutally murdered Ms. Paul in a crowded YMCA while innocent children and their parents gathered for learning and recreation,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Rachel Gran.
“While we know the sentence will never bring back Ms. Paul, who left behind two lovely children, we hope the family will be comforted in some small measure by the fact that the justice system worked well in this case,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Gina Iosim, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Gran.