A New Jersey teen who shot and killed four family members with a semi-automatic rifle just before the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve in 2017 has been sentenced to 150 years in prison.
On Thursday, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. Lemieux handed down the sentence to Scott Kologi, now 20, of Long Branch, who was convicted in February on all charges including four counts of first-degree murder.
“The intention of this court is that this defendant never see the light of the outside of a jail cell ever again,” LeMieux said, the Asbury Park Press reports. “I hope one day, you realize the magnitude of what you’ve done here.”
On New Year’s Eve, during a family party, Kologi, then 16, killed his sister, 18-year-old Brittany Kologi, his mother, 44-year-old Linda Kologi, his father, 42-year-old Steven Kologi, all of Long Branch, and also killed his grandfather’s companion, 70-year-old Mary Schulz, of Ocean Township.
In court Thursday, Kologi’s attorneys argued that their client’s severe mental illness led him to kill his family; the lawyers asked for a sentence of 30 years.
“He’s a mentally ill child who begged his mother for help and never got it,” defense attorney Emeka Nkwuo said, the Asbury Park Press reports.
Testimony during the trial revealed that Kologi’s mother didn’t want her son to tell his therapist that he thought about killing people because she was afraid he would be hospitalized, the Asbury Park Press reports.
Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Brennan then argued for a much stronger sentence.
“These were acts of evil, carried out by someone who knew exactly what he was doing,” Brennan said, according to the statement from the prosecutor’s office. “He killed them because he could. He killed them because he wanted to.”
The teen pulled the trigger 14 times, Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin J. Sidley said, according to the statement. Twelve of those shots hit the victims.
During the hearing, Brennan stressed that Kologi planned out the murders. He researched “whether the weapon he used would be effective against responding police donning bulletproof vests,” the statement said.
Brennan also pointed out how Kologi lured his mother upstairs, “shooting her to death from the cover of darkness in his room, and then fatally shooting his father when he rushed to see what was going on,” the statement says.
“Wearing earplugs to protect himself from the sound of the weapon, Kologi then slowly maneuvered around their bodies and walked downstairs before ‘casually’ murdering Schulz and his sister, who was home on winter break following her first semester at college,” the statement says.
Kologi’s brother and grandfather were also home at the time and survived the attack.
“Even though they physically survived,” Brennan said, “they will still have to deal with the mental scars of what they saw.”
Carol Kologi, Steven Kologi Sr.’s mother, asked the judge if he could send him to a place where he could get help for his mental illness, the Asbury Park Press reports
“Scott was a 16-year-old child who recognized that he needed help because of damaging thoughts,” Carol Kologi said, the paper reports. “Scott told his mother that he was having bad thoughts about killing people, including family members.
“Although he was found guilty, I do believe Scott’s mental condition is the impetus behind that night in 2017,” she said. “I’m asking the court for some compassion and understanding in this matter.”
Defense attorney Richard Lomurro said he would appeal Kologi’s conviction and sentence.
“The bottom line is, Scott is not a cold-blooded killer,” Lomurro said. “Scott is, and was, severely mentally ill. But he will be sent to state prison to be with cold-blooded killers.'”
Kologi must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence, or 127 ½ years, before becoming eligible for parole, under the terms of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, according to a statement released by the prosecutor’s office.
Yet another example of why we need stricter gun laws.