19-Year-Old to Plead Guilty in South Jersey Plot, His Father Says
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., Dec. 8 (AP) - A 19-year-old who the authorities said was the mastermind of a killing spree that never materialized will plead guilty today to carjacking, his father said.
The teenager, Matthew Lovett, who was 18 at the time, and two other youths were arrested on July 6 in Oaklyn, N.J., outside Philadelphia, with a cache of guns and swords and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The authorities said the three had planned to kill three other teenagers in town, then flee in a stolen vehicle.
Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of less than the 30-year maximum for carjacking for Mr. Lovett, his father, Ronald Lovett, said on Monday.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today. Prosecutors would not comment on the subject of the hearing. A law enforcement source said the recommended sentence would not be less than the regular 10-year minimum for carjacking.
The two other teenagers have already struck plea deals with prosecutors. Christopher Olson, 15, was sentenced last month for a weapons offense to four years in prison with no chance of parole for three years. Cody Jackson, 15, is to be sentenced on Friday for carjacking to five years in prison with no chance of parole.
All three teenagers are residents of Oaklyn. The families of Mr. Olson and Mr. Jackson, and their lawyers, have said that the teenagers were coerced by Mr. Lovett into following him in a deadly plan to eliminate acquaintances they considered their enemies.
Ronald Lovett said, "These people want to put the blame on Matt because everyone looks for a scapegoat."
He said that because of his age and the ages of his son's grandmothers, he wanted his son to accept a plea deal. Ronald Lovett is 57 and the grandmothers are in their 80's.
"I want someone to be alive when he comes out of prison," he said.
He also said prosecutors had come down unfairly hard on his son, who he said promised to be "a model citizen" from now on.
He said that he had been following bails for murder suspects, and that most of them were a fraction of the $1 million his son has been held on for five months.
The three teenagers were arrested after they tried to force a driver out of his car on an Oaklyn street. The man drove off and reported the carjacking attempt to a police officer, who arrested the teenagers without incident.