Atlantic City man sentenced for shootout that killed bystander
The death of a bystander in crossfire of a 2012 gang shootout in Atlantic City means as many as 35 years in prison for a suspect whose DNA on a handgun tied him to the incident.
Rodney Smiley's aggregate sentence includes a mandatory 17-and-a-half years before parole eligiblity, according to First Assistant Atlantic County Prosecutor Cary Shill.
In December 2016, Smiley was acquitted of murder, and the jury did not reach a unanimous verdict on related homicide and conspiracy charges. Jurors convicted Smiley of two second-degree weapons charges, and of a first-degree count of witness tampering. A charge of first-degree aggravated manslaughter is still pending, authorities said.
Jose Ortiz, 59, was hit as dozens of bullets flew in several directions while he pedaled his bike outside the Stanley Homes Village where he lived. His death came about as a result of a gunshot wound in his abdomen.
Smiley was charged in January 2014, while imprisoned on unrelated charges, after a 16-month investigation by Atlantic City police and the Prosecutor's Major Crimes unit, authorities said.
At trial, prosecutors contended that three individuals piled out of a car at C. Morris Cain Place and Kentucky Avenue, pumping as many as 30 shots across the playground at City Place in the apartment complex, and returning to the vehicle that was later found near a home associated with Smiley. A search of the dwelling yielded the gun, authorities said.
Prosecutors alleged that Smile admitted his involvement to a girlfriend, attributed it to gang rivalry, and threatened and assaulted her to keep her quiet.
At sentencing, prosecutors secured an extended term for unlawful possession of a handgun, a mandatory minimum for witness tampering, and for consecutively-served time for each conviction.