A 20-year-old New Jersey man who brutally massacred four members of his own family with a high-powered assault rifle on New Year’s Eve appears poised to spend the rest of his life behind bars. Monmouth County Superior Court Criminal Division Presiding Judge Marc C. Lemieux on Thursday sentenced Scott Kologi to 150 years in state prison for killing his mother, father, older sister, and surrogate grandmother on the final day of 2017, prosecutors announced.
A jury in February took less than five hours to convict Kologi four counts of first-degree murder and a second-degree weapons charge in the deaths of Linda Kologi, 44; Steven Kologi Sr., 42; Mary Schulz, 70; and Brittany Kologi, 18.
Judge Lemieux on Thursday also denied a series of motions from Kologi’s defense team seeking a new trial and verdict reversal, saying the evidence against Kologi was “overwhelming” and his crime resulted in “immeasurable harm.”
Prosecutors agreed and sought “a sentence matching the severity of the crime,” according to a press release from the prosecutor’s office.
“These were acts of evil, carried out by someone who knew exactly what he was doing,” Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Brennan said during the proceeding. “He killed them because he could. He killed them because he wanted to.”
Officers with the Long Branch Police Department and deputies with Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 11:43 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired at 635 Wall Street. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders discovered all four victims at different locations within the residence, with each appearing to have sustained multiple gunshot wounds. All four were pronounced dead on the scene.
A then-16-year-old Kologi was arrested at the house and the firearm used in the killings, a C39v2 semi-automatic rifle, was recovered.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, authorities said Kologi confessed to the murders during that initial meeting with detectives from the Long Branch Police Department. Video of the interrogation shows Kologi calmly explaining how he killed each of the four family members while his brother struggles to maintain his composure.
“When everything was happening, I felt like I was watching it like I was further back in my mind,” he said. “I just kept firing until they, like, stopped moving.”
Kologi told detectives that he went upstairs and put on a leather jacket, sunglasses and earplugs just before his killing spree. He then loaded a rifle belonging to his biological brother and stood in his room with all of the lights turned off, noting that he knew his mother would come looking for him and he didn’t want her to see him with the weapon.
Assistant Prosecutor Brennan described the shooting during Thursday’s proceeding to illustrate the premeditated nature of the crime. Per Brennan, Kologi lured his mother upstairs, shooting her in the head four times “under the cover of darkness.” He then shot his father in the back and torso as he rushed upstairs to see what was going on. Kologi then made his way downstairs and “casually” murdered his surrogate grandmother with several shots to the torso. He then shot his sister, who was home from school on winter break, in the head three times while she sat at the kitchen table.
Kologi told detectives that he planned to shoot more people until he saw his grandfather—who, along with Kologi’s brother, was home during the attack—fall to his knees and break down in tears after he shot Schulz made him “confused.” The grandfather and brother were unharmed.
“Even though they physically survived,” Brennan said, “they will still have to deal with the mental scars of what they saw.”
In all, Kologi fired 14 shots, with 12 of those shots hitting his victims.
Kologi pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His attorneys, Richard Lomurro and Emeka Nkwuo, argued that their client had untreated schizophrenia and hallucinations and experienced a psychotic break the day of the murders. Kologi also suffered from severe developmental disabilities.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Kologi’s defense attorneys called one of his surviving brothers, Jonathan Ruiz, to the stand to support its claims during the second week of the three-week trial. Ruiz testified that at the time of the shootings his brother still believed in Santa Claus, slept in his parents’ bed, and could not get dressed by himself.
A prosecution expert countered that Kologi was “autistic, not schizophrenic, and knew what he was doing when he killed his family members,” according to the Asbury Park Press.
“Our deepest condolences remain with the victims’ family and friends, who continue to feel the impact of the loss of their loved ones and who will live with their grief in perpetuity,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said in a statement following the sentencing.
Lomurro and Nkwuo did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime.
[image via court documents]
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