FREEHOLD - An Asbury Park armed robbery defendant, barred from the courtroom during his two-week trial, finds out Wednesday that he was convicted Tuesday, and that he faces a potential life prison term.


Mario Figueroa, 40, of Asbury Park, was barred for repeated outbursts, said Monmouth authorities. His prior record opens the possibility of a life sentence for the first-degree armed robbery charge.

Figueroa was also found guilty of second-degree aggravated assault and witness retaliation, two first-degree charges of witness tampering, third-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, according to the office of Monmouth County Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni.

The witness tampering convictions mean a consecutive 10-to-20-year term. Figueroa will be required to serve 85 percent of the sentence for armed robbery and weapons counts before becoming eligible for parole.

Prosecutors said that on October 21, 2014, Figueroa, wielding a box cutter, held it to a victim's neck, forced him to the ground and stole his wallet. Officers of the Asbury Park PD Street Crimes Unit spotted Figueroa running from the area, authorities said.

While in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution awaiting court proceedings, Figueroa attacked a witness to the robbery, in retaliation for the statement given to police, causing permanent vision damage, authorities said, then sent "dozens" of threats to a second witness.

Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Martha Nye conducted the government's case. Figueroa is represented by Toms River attorney John Sheehy.

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