An Elizabeth NJ man convicted of murder nearly 20 years ago has had his murder conviction overturned.
October 28, 2013 was a momentous day in the life of Gerard Richardson, a man who has served nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of murder in 1995. Mr. Richardson, now 48 years old, had been convicted of killing Monica Reyes. However, in light of new DNA evidence, Mr. Richardson’s conviction was vacated in Somerset County Superior Court in Somerville NJ.
On February 25, 1994, Ms. Reyes was found murdered on Old Stagecoach Road in Bernards Township NJ. Ms. Reyes had suffered multiple blunt force traumas to the head. At the time, prosecutors connected Mr. Richardson to Ms. Reyes through drug money. According to prosecutors, Mr. Richardson threatened to kill Ms. Reyes after she failed to pay him for drugs.
The State’s case was supported by expert testimony from a forensic odontologist, who matched a bite mark on Ms. Reyes’ back to Mr. Richardson’s teeth.
After Mr. Richardson was convicted of murdering Ms. Reyes, he was sentenced to 30 years in New Jersey State Prison. However, later, a DNA test connected the bite mark on Ms. Reyes’ back to an unknown male. As a result of the new findings, defense attorneys filed a motion to vacate Mr. Richardson’s conviction, which the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office declined to oppose.
Although Mr. Richardson’s conviction was vacated, the State can still opt to conduct a new trial. State prosecutors could argue that the other evidence presented at trial still links Mr. Richardson to Ms. Reyes’ death, even if he had an accomplice in the murder. Additionally, the reliability of the expert testimony analyzing Mr. Richardson’s teeth could be in dispute.
To learn more about this case, access the NJ.com article entitled “After Nearly 20 Years in Prison, Elizabeth Man Likely to Have His Murder Conviction Vacated Today.“