A Highland Park man with an extensive arrest record will serve a minimum of nearly a half-century in prison for the 2002 murder of a city resident, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced Tuesday.
Edelbarto Padilla, 36, was handed a 50-year sentence for the murder of Carlos Manuel Freitas, 27. Padilla, who was sentenced Tuesday in Essex County Superior Court in Newark, must serve 42-and-a-half years before becoming eligible for parole.
Padilla and Freitas were at the Ugha Ugha Social Club on Joseph Street on Oct. 24, 2002 when the two had what authorities described as an altercation for an unknown reason. Padilla then shot the victim two times at the club, which at the time was an after-hours establishment popular with waiters and other restaurant workers.
While Freitas lay bleeding and motionless, Padilla shot him a third time, authorities said.
Padilla was charged two weeks later but remained at large for nine years until he was captured in New Brunswick. The jury at Padilla’s first trial was unable to reach a unanimous verdict but he was convicted at a second trial on April 25 of murder and weapons charges.
Padilla had been arrested 16 times previously in three states and had used 13 aliases. The brutal nature of the crime and Padilla’s criminal record prompted authorities to ask for the 50-year sentence.
“There is no indication that he has learned anything from his prior contact with the law,’’ Assistant Prosecutor Brian Pollock said.