Atlantic City man gets 501/2 years for 2008 slaying

Posted: October 30, 2010

MAYS LANDING, N.J. - A 72-year-old Atlantic City man who was captured on video fatally shooting a Sewell contractor he claimed owed him money received a sentence of 501/2 years in prison Friday.

Before the sentencing in Superior Court, Jose Aleman delivered a rambling, 10-minute diatribe in which he expressed no remorse for killing Pong H. Yu, 59, on April 24, 2008, in front of an abandoned Atlantic City building Yu was considering buying and renovating.

Aleman saw Yu speaking with an architect about the job and went home to fetch a revolver, according to the prosecutor. When Aleman returned, witnesses said, he wounded Yu in the stomach, and as the victim lay on the ground shot him in the head. A third bullet grazed an arm of the other man.

An Atlantic City police captain who was driving past the property arrested Aleman within minutes of the 1:18 p.m. shooting. An Atlantic County jury in September took an hour to convict Aleman, who worked for Yu as a handyman for years, of first-degree murder, weapons offenses, and aggravated assault.

Nellie Marquez, Aleman's lawyer, argued unsuccessfully Friday that the defendant deserved a new trial because the prosecution had failed to prove he went to the construction site with the purpose of killing Yu.

She asked Judge James E. Isman to give Aleman a 30-year sentence due to his age and recent battle with cancer, now in remission.

But Atlantic County Assistant Prosecutor Janet Gravitz requested a sentence of at least 40 years for Aleman, who she said had shown no sympathy for Yu and his family on that day or since.

Yu's wife, daughter, and two sons were in the courtroom and declined to make a statement before the judge's decision. They also declined to comment afterward.

Aleman, a Cuban immigrant who spoke in broken English through an intepreter, said he lent Yu $15,000, but instead of repaying him, Yu spent the money on his son's dental school tuition and trips by his wife to her native South Korea. Aleman said he needed the money for his own medical treatment. Whether Yu owed Aleman money has never been substantiated.

Aleman has a criminal record dating to 1969 that includes 27 arrests and nine convictions in Nevada, Florida, and New Jersey. He served three years in state prison in Nevada on drug charges, Gravitz said.

"The problem is, this shooting - almost unbelievably - was on film, and it shows the dramatic coldness of it," Isman said, referring to an eight-minute video from a surveillance camera on a nearby building.

"And it's clear in [Aleman's] statement to police that he intended to 'kill the man,' as he put it," Isman said.

Aleman would have to serve about 39 years in prison before he could be considered for parole, according to the Prosecutor's Office. He also was ordered to pay court costs and expenses for Yu's funeral.


Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-652-8382 or jurgo@phillynews.com.

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