FREEHOLD – The Mercer County man who fatally shot a Freehold woman as she drove along on a state highway – a crime that took place four years ago today – has been sentenced to life in prison, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.
Kader Mustafa, 40, will not become eligible for parole before reaching the age of 104, under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act and the terms set down Monday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr.
Shortly before 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a 911 call originating from a vehicle stopped along Route 33 West near the exit ramp for Halls Mill Road. At that location, officers found three occupants of the vehicle, a 1997 Mazda Protégé: 24-year-old Sciasia Calhoun, who had sustained a single gunshot wound to the head, and her boyfriend and 1-year-old daughter, both of whom were not physically harmed.
Calhoun was rushed by Freehold First Aid, with the assistance of Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC), to nearby CentraState Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead approximately one hour later.
An intensive joint investigation by the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau and the Freehold Township Police Department, with significant assistance from the Manalapan Police Department, revealed that Mustafa was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala when he fired a single shot at Calhoun, after several minutes of following her vehicle, at one point even colliding with its rear bumper. Mustafa was apprehended at his cousin’s residence in Manalapan in the area of Oakland Mills Road at approximately 8:10 a.m. the morning after the shooting, when two handguns were recovered from the vehicle.
While recounting the facts of the case on Monday, Judge Falcetano noted that Sciasia and her loved ones were en route to Asbury Park on the night of the shooting when they suddenly realized that their vehicle’s headlights weren’t operational – only the high beams were working. They had already turned around and were heading back home when they encountered Mustafa. “Her last act,” Falcetano said, was to somehow safely pull over the vehicle to the side of the road, despite having been shot by a man he described as a “cauldron of rage” who was “marauding … aimlessly” that night, while armed.
“This was completely random,” Falcetano said. “I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe it.”
Several members of Calhoun’s immediate family, spanning three generations, made remarks in court before Monday’s sentencing was rendered. They described a “diamond in the rough” with ample ambition and a fierce independent streak, who stubbornly refused to let anyone help her learn how to ride a bicycle as a young child – despite bumps, bruises, and scratches piling up – until she had perfected it on her own.
“The defendant chose to randomly fire a shot and randomly kill a 24-year-old who had done absolutely nothing to him,” said MCPO Director of Investigations Christopher Decker, who represented the State at sentencing. “There’s nothing more depraved or heinous.”
Monday’s sentencing followed a multi-week trial that concluded in October 2021, when the jury convicted Mustafa on all six charges against him: first-degree Murder, second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, two counts of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and two counts of third-degree Endangering Another Person. MCPO Investigation Division Director and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey, who has since retired, handled the prosecution.