New Jersey Supreme Court Orders Trial Court to Impose New Sentence in Randolph Township Murder Case

Murder Charges in Randolph NJA man who murdered and then dismembered a teen girl in Randolph Township in 2005 will now be eligible for release from prison at some point. The NJ Supreme Court recently ordered a Morris County trial court to resentence James Zarate in the homicide case. In January, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that juvenile defendants, or defendants who were minors at the time of their offenses, can’t be sentenced to life imprisonment. In this case, Zarate received a sentenced that called for him to serve 64 years in New Jersey State Prison before becoming eligible for parole. The state supreme court held that this kind of lengthy prison sentence was essentially the same as a sentence of life in prison.

The ruling in this case meant that the trial court, the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, had to resentence Zarate and reduce his original sentence to 50 years in state prison. As a result, Zarate could now be released on parole when he turns 57. (Prior to the NJ Supreme Court ruling, Zarate was not going to become eligible for parole until turning 78.)

Randolph Township Brothers Killed Teenage Girl

James Zarate was 14 years old when he murdered a 16-year-old girl who lived in a house next door to Zarate’s father in Randolph, NJ. Zarate and his older brother, Jonathan Zarate, reportedly went after the girl as revenge for her reporting James as a bully at high school. A witness later testified in court that James participated in the homicide because Jonathan taunted him.

Randolph Township cops connected the Zarate brothers to the killing when they tried to throw a trunk containing the victim’s body into a river on July 31, 2005. This was just one day after they used knives to stab the victim to death outside her home in Randolph, New Jersey.

During trial in Morris County Superior Court, James Zarate’s defense team argued that he did not take part in the killing. Zarate said that he merely helped his brother to dispose of the victim’s body after the homicide. However, forensic experts countered that blood stains on James Zarate’s clothes proved that he was responsible for the violent crime.

At the end of the trial, a jury agreed with prosecutors and found James Zarate guilty of first degree murder. (Jonathan Zarate was convicted by a jury in a different trial in Morris County Superior Court.) Zarate later filed an appeal of the sentence, which led to the recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Morris County Criminal Defense Lawyers About Your Criminal Charges

If you’ve been charged with a violent crime like murder, manslaughter, or aggravated assault, the aggressive criminal defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm can help you beat the charges and avoid the most severe penalties. Our legal team has defended clients against serious criminal charges throughout Morris County, New Jersey. Contact us today to go over the details of your case.

Homicide Lawyer in Riverdale NJA Philadelphia man was recently arrested and charged with a crime for allegedly causing a fatal hit-and-run crash in Riverdale, NJ.

The suspect is a 53-year-old man from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He reportedly works as a dump truck driver. According to officials, the suspect was driving a truck along the Hamburg Turnpike in Riverdale when he struck a bicyclist.

Afterwards, the suspect reportedly drove off. Police investigated and managed to find the suspect at the Riverdale Quarry.

Meanwhile, paramedics transported the accident victim to an area hospital. The victim was later pronounced dead at the medical facility. He was 50 years old.

Riverdale NJ police spoke to the suspect about the hit-and-run accident. The suspect reportedly said that he was not involved in the accident.

Morris County prosecutors determined that that was enough evidence to charge the suspect in connection with the fatal crash. The suspect now faces criminal charges for leaving the scene of a fatal accident and hindering apprehension.

For additional information about this case, read the NJ.com article, “Dump Truck Driver Charged in Hit-and-Run Crash That Killed Bicyclist.”

Roxbury NJ Murder Defense LawyersA man from Oklahoma man faces first degree murder charges stemming from the death of his wife, a Roxbury woman, in 2009.

The suspect is from LeFlore County in Oklahoma. He married the victim, a 23-year-old woman who used to reside in Roxbury, NJ, in 2008. In fact, the victim reportedly moved to Oklahoma in order to marry the suspect.

One year after the marriage, the victim was killed. Her body was found outdoors in Heavener, Oklahoma.

Law enforcement in Oklahoma did not stop investigating the homicide – and now they have connected the suspect to the killing. Authorities believe that the suspect murdered his wife and then got help from his mom when disposing of the body.

The suspect was recently arrested and charged with multiple crimes: first degree murder and unlawful disposal of a body.

The suspect and the victim reportedly had a young daughter who is now eight years old. If the suspect is convicted on the murder charges, he would likely lose custody of his child.

For additional information about this case, check out the NJ.com article, “Husband, Mother-in-Law Charged in Killing of N.J. Native.”

Roxbury NJ Attempted Murder SuspectA Roxbury NJ woman has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly trying to poison her elderly grandmother.

The suspect is a 26-year-old woman from the Succasunna part of Roxbury in Morris County, New Jersey. According to Morris County NJ prosecutors, the suspect put antifreeze into her grandmother’s juice one morning in the hopes that her grandmother would drink from the glass and die.

Fortunately, the victim did not get sick as a result of the alleged poisoning. However, she did reportedly state that the juice tasted bad.

The suspect reportedly bought the antifreeze at a Walmart located in Roxbury one day prior to the attempted murder.

The Roxbury Police Department and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation after the suspect’s friend alerted authorities to the potential crime.

The suspect is currently being held in the Morris County Jail because a superior court judge ruled that she should be detained without bail.

At the detention hearing, which was held in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, the suspect’s lawyer said that the suspect should be charged with aggravated assault, not attempted murder. However, Morris County prosecutors have not relented and currently plan to move forward with criminal charges for attempted murder.

For additional information about this case, read the NJ.com article, “Woman Accused of Trying to Poison Grandmother Claims She Didn’t Mean to Kill Her.”

Morristown Heroin Distribution LawyersA man accused of selling fatal drugs is likely to spend several years in prison after he pleaded guilty to strict liability homicide.

The suspect is a 34-year-old whose last known address was in Hillside, New Jersey. According to Morris County law enforcement officials, the suspect sold heroin and cocaine to a man in Morris County, New Jersey. The victim, a 31-year-old Essex County resident, later died due to a drug overdose at a Hanover NJ motel.

Detectives investigated the victim’s death and determined that the suspect sold the victim heroin and cocaine that led to the fatal overdose.

Police officers found the suspect in Newark New Jersey and placed him under arrest. He was initially charged with heroin distribution, cocaine distribution, and manslaughter.

The suspect ultimately avoided trial in the case by reaching a plea deal with Morris County prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to first degree charges for strict liability for drug-induced death.

The suspect will have to make an appearance in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown later this year for a formal sentencing hearing. He could potentially be sentenced to eight years in state prison.

To learn more about this case, go to the NJ.com article, “Suspected Dealer Admits He Dispensed Drugs That Killed.”

Mount Olive Murder ChargesA Mount Olive woman is currently standing trial for allegedly murdering her boyfriend outside her house in 2014.

Virginia Vertetis is a 54-year-old woman who worked at Wharton Elementary School and lived in Mount Olive, New Jersey. According to law enforcement, she fatally shot her boyfriend on March 3, 2014.

The homicide victim was a 51-year-old man from Staten Island NY who served for years with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) before retiring.

After the fatal shooting, Mount Olive NJ police officers went to the scene, investigated the shooting, and arrested the suspect. She was charged with multiple crimes, including first degree murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Now the case has finally reached the trial stage in Morris County Superior Court, which is located in Morristown, NJ.

During their opening statements to the jury, Morris County NJ prosecutors argued that Vertetis became enraged when she found out that her boyfriend was cheating on her and that he intended to break up with her. Vertetis, claimed prosecutors, used a .38-caliber revolver to shoot and kill the victim outside her home.

Defense attorneys countered in their opening statements to the jury that Vertetis shot the victim in self-defense. According to Vertetis, the victim assaulted her before the shooting. Moreover, said defense lawyers, Vertetis believed that this was a “kill or be killed” situation.

Vertetis has also alleged that her boyfriend abused her for many years and that was a victim of domestic violence.

For more information about this case, see the DailyRecord.com article, “Lawyer: Mount Olive Woman Thought ‘Kill or Be Killed’ As She Shot Beau.”

Morris County Traffic AttorneysA Florida man is headed to jail after pleading guilty to homicide charges related to a fatal motorcycle accident in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The fatal auto accident occurred just before 8:00 a.m. on May 13, 2012. The suspect, a 25-year-old Florida man, was driving his car in the area of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford when he crashed into a motorcyclist. The biker, a Kinnelon resident who owned a business in Cliffside Park NJ, died due to injuries sustained in the accident.

Law enforcement conducted an investigation into the fatal accident and determined that the suspect was speeding prior to the collision.

The suspect was arrested and charged with second degree death by auto, a felony-level offense that could have led to a sentence of 10 years in NJ State Prison if the case had gone to trial. However, the suspect avoided trial, and the most severe penalties, by reaching a plea agreement with Bergen County prosecutors.

Now a Bergen County Superior Court judge has signed off on the plea deal and sentenced the suspect to just 364 days in the Bergen County Jail. The judge also sentenced the suspect to five years of probation after he completes his jail sentence.

For more information about this case, access the NorthJersey.com article, “Man Gets Jail Term in Death of Kinnelon Motorcyclist.”

Lincoln Park Murder Defense LawyersA Fairview New Jersey man charged with aggravated manslaughter in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown NJ has been ruled unfit to stand trial right now.

The suspect, a 51-year-old resident of Fairview in Bergen County, NJ, allegedly helped another person cover up a homicide in 2011 by disposing of the body in Lincoln Park, New Jersey.

The victim in the homicide was 27 years of age. According to prosecutors, the victim was beaten to death with a hammer in Fairview and then driven to Lincoln Park, NJ.

The suspect is supposed to face the criminal charges in Morris County, but a judge recently said that the suspect is not currently fit to stand trial. This is yet another delay in a murder trial that has already been delayed numerous times.

Although the suspect’s criminal defense attorney argued that the charges should be dropped because his client will never be competent for trial, the superior court judge has instructed the suspect to take medication so that he can get his mental illness under control.

The suspect’s co-defendant in the homicide case has already been convicted of aggravated manslaughter.

For further information about this case, read the DailyRecord.com article, “Man Accused of Dumping Body in Lincoln Park Still Unfit for Trial.”

Dover NJ Murder Defense AttorneysDetectives with the Dover Police Department are looking into the recent death of a homeless man whose body was found in a wooded area.

According to authorities, the victim is a 50-year-old homeless man who was living in an encampment in the woods of Dover, New Jersey. The victim’s friend is said to have found his body in the encampment.

After discovering the body, the victim’s friend notified local law enforcement. Dover NJ police officers went to the scene, but there was nothing they could do to revive the victim.

Although Dover police do not believe that the victim’s death was suspicious or the result of a homicide, they are still conducting an investigation and attempting to figure out exactly what happened. As part of that investigation, coroners with the Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office will be performing an autopsy on the body.

If law enforcement eventually determines that the victim was, in fact, murdered, the person responsible would likely face severe penalties. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3 of the New Jersey Criminal Code, murder is a first degree felony and carries a potential punishment of life imprisonment.

For additional information about this investigation, check out the NJ.com article, “Body of Homeless Man Found in Dover.”

Morris County NJ Domestic Violence LawyersProsecutors in Essex County recently made the decision to upgrade criminal charges against a mother and her boyfriend related to the death of the female suspect’s seven-year-old kid.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office initially filed criminal charges against the adult suspects for child endangerment. However, the criminal charges were eventually upgraded to aggravated manslaughter when the child tragically died as a result of his injuries. The incident unfolded on October 2, 2016, with Newark cops being dispatched to the couple’s home in Newark, New Jersey. Newark police officers found the seven-year-old boy at the residence, where he was unresponsive after having sustained traumatic injuries. An Essex County NJ medical examiner later determined that the boy’s death was directly caused by multiple blunt force traumas.

Authorities also revealed that the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”), formerly known as “DYFS,” had previously made a determination that the child was a victim of child abuse or neglect and that the male suspect was the person who committed the abuse. DCP&P investigators specifically “established” an allegation of child abuse, but they did not remove the child from the home.

As set forth by child abuse and neglect laws in New Jersey, there are four potential outcomes of a DCP&P investigation into allegations of child abuse and neglect: substantiated, established, not established, and unfounded. The threshold question that DCP&P investigators ask in these cases is whether the alleged victim was abused or neglected, as defined by Title 9 (N.J.S.A. 9:8.21, et. seq.). If investigators find that the child was a victim of abuse or neglect, the Division goes further and applies an analytical framework of aggravating and mitigating factors to decide if the allegation has been “substantiated” or “established.” When the factual scenario fails to meet the statutory definition of child abuse or neglect under Title 9, the Division will “not establish” the allegation and will probably find the allegation to be “unfounded.”

The recent Newark child abuse and manslaughter case highlights the fine line that exists between preserving the family unit and subjecting a child to the pain of being taken away from his or her family. When DCP&P conducts an investigation into an allegation of child abuse or child neglect, investigators typically address two important issues:

  1. Whether the child has been abused or neglected to such an extent that the child’s safety, health, and well-being are being placed in immediate danger.
  2. Whether it would be contrary to the child’s best interests to remain in the home.

There is an extremely important distinction between determining that a child has been abused or neglected and determining whether the child ought to be removed from his family. Of course, an instance of past abuse is usually considered highly relevant when determining whether the child is in immediate danger of being physically harmed. However, DCP&P investigators still take care to recognize the importance of maintaining the family unit, which is why they will not automatically conclude that a past instance of child abuse should lead to removal of the child from the home.