A man received a 10-year state prison sentence on Thursday for killing 52-year-old Arthur Clauser outside of 24 Ward Street last summer.
Henry J. Rivera, 32, of Paterson, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter. He was initially charged with murder. Under the plea deal, Rivera receives 10 years in state prison with 85 percent of the sentence to be served before parole eligibility.
Passaic County judge Marilyn Clark sentenced him on Thursday consistent with the plea agreement.
“I wish to withhold my comments,” Rivera said when given a chance to speak during the sentencing.
The judge explained to him this is his only opportunity to speak.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” said Rivera.
Clauser was a father of three children, two of whom spoke during sentencing.
“I am forever filled with pain and sadness. The man who did this deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars. It seems to be clear, he’s highly dangerous and impulsive. He has no heart or morals,” wrote Arthur Clauser, Jr., son of the deceased, in a letter read by the prosecutor before sentencing.
“The day you took my dad, I was going to surprise him with his firstborn granddaughter,” said Clauser’s daughter, Barbara Hansen, addressing the killer during sentencing. She said her five children lost their grandfather because of Rivera’s actions. “You took my dad from me and his grandkids.”
Hansen teared up as she addressed the court in the virtual proceeding.
“How do I tell my two-year-old why she can’t pick up the phone and call her grandpa?” said Hansen. “My daughter, every time she sees a man on the bike, thinks it’s my dad and starts calling for him.”
Hansen said she was not happy with the sentence.
On June 22, 2020, Rivera stabbed Clauser to death outside of 24 Ward Street.
Rivera was sitting outside after midnight in front of his apartment building talking to a woman. His neighbor, Clauser, came up to both of them. Clauser made some remarks to the woman. Rivera found the remarks to be offensive.
Rivera got into a verbal argument with Clauser in front of the stairs leading to his apartment. Clauser threw a bicycle at Rivera. The bicycle struck Rivera in the face and upper chest. Rivera, angry and upset, engaged Clauser in a physical fight in front of the house. He pulled out a knife and plunged it deep in the left upper chest of Clauser.
Clauser died as a result of the stab wound.
Rivera admitted by introducing a knife in a physical fight he escalated the situation to the point he was using deadly force. He admitted he acted “recklessly” and with “extreme indifference” to the value of human life.
Rivera surrendered to police the day of the incident. While waiting for his day in court at the Passaic County Jail, he committed another act of violence.
On March 25, 2021, Rivera and six others allegedly attacked a person inside the Passaic County Jail. He tackled the victim to the ground. And the others punched and kicked the victim.
Rivera said the man they attacked had struck another inmate and broke his jaw.
Rivera intended to beat the victim, but he got trapped under a table after the tackle and missed his shot. He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault for the jail incident. He will get a five-year sentence for the offense, but it will run concurrently with his 10-year sentence. He will ultimately spend little over eight years in state prison.
Rivera went up to the 8th grade in school. He was previously diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. He is not married and has a six-year-old daughter.
Rivera has 381 days of jail credit. He has been held at the Passaic County Jail since the killing last year. He must serve five years of parole supervision after release.