A man has been sentenced to 45 to 100 years in the shooting deaths of two people last year during a custody exchange in the parking lot of a Walmart store in Whitehall Township.
Edward Joel Rosario-Jimenez, 24, was sentenced after pleading guilty Thursday to third-degree murder in the February 2021 deaths of 22-year-old Jonathan Martinez and 20-year-old Nicolette Law in Lehigh County.
Officials said Martinez, the child’s father, had arrived with his 3-year-old child and Law, his new girlfriend. Rosario-Jimenez drove a Toyota SUV to the store with the child’s mother and two other people. An argument began and the defendant shot Law and then Martinez before fleeing, prosecutors said.
Law was pronounced dead that night and Martinez died just over a week later. Rosario-Jimenez was arrested a few days later and the handgun was found hidden in a snowbank. LehighValleyLive reports that video evidence showed that it was 45 seconds from the time Rosario-Jimenez arrived to when he shot the two victims.
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In exchange for the plea, Lehigh County prosecutors dropped plans to seek the death penalty in the case. Assistant District Attorney Steven Luksa called the sentence tantamount to a life term, but Laws mother said she had wanted to see a life sentence for the man who killed her youngest child.
Judge Robert Steinberg told the defendant that he belonged “in the darkest place the state correctional institution can put you," saying he had shown no remorse. He said it was a sad commentary on society that the killings occurred during a custody exchange.
"All their dreams and aspirations ended with your shooting of them," the judge said of the victims.
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If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), visiting www.thehotline.org or texting LOVEIS to 22522.