Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that Kelly Whitney, a former Seton Hall University basketball player, pleaded guilty today to the 2010 home invasion burglary of an off-campus residence in South Orange occupied by Seton Hall University students.
Whitney, 28, of Chicago pleaded guilty to burglary, criminal restraint, and conspiracy to commit burglary and is expected to be sentenced to three years in New Jersey state prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 7 by the Honorable Alfonse Cifelli, J.S.C.
Following a trial in May, Judge Cifelli declared a mistrial on June 1 after the jury said it was hopelessly deadlocked.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Whitney will be sentenced under the No Early Release Act which means he must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. In his case, that would be 30.6 months. He must also serve three years probation after his release from prison.
“The victims bravely confronted Kelly Whitney during the trial,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Ruzich, who tried the case. “Today’s guilty plea demonstrates that Whitney was not ready to face his victims again.’’
“These college students suffered through a very dangerous and distressing assault,’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Ari Schneider, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Ruzich. “Whitney will now have to face the serious penal consequences for assaulting these young men and women,’’ Assistant Prosecutor Schneider added.
According to the trial testimony, Whitney along with his co-defendant, Robert “Styx” Mitchell, who was then a current member of the Seton Hall Basketball team, entered the college students’ off-campus apartment located at 240 Irvington Avenue in South Orange. The two defendants duct-taped the students and ransacked the apartment taking cash and other valuables.
At least one of the men brandished a handgun during the attack, according to the victims. The two fled the scene before the police arrived. One of the eight students who was tied up and robbed testified that he would never forget Whitney’s face.
Mitchell, who pleaded guilty earlier and testified on behalf of the state, described Whitney as the mastermind of the robbery.
Whitney was arrested after the robbery at a hotel near Newark Airport. He was there with his girlfriend.