North Bergen Man Killed Victim with Hammer & Hid Body in Lincoln Park, New Jersey
Carlos Rojas will stay in prison for the violent killing of his stepfather’s cousin. Rojas is a 27-year-old man from North Bergen, New Jersey. On August 3, 2011, he used a hammer to bludgeon 27-year-old Esteban Hernandez-Vazquez in a garage in Fairview, NJ. The garage was owned by a mechanic who was in the process of teaching Rojas to repair motor vehicles. According to Morris County prosecutors, Rojas and Hernandez-Vazquez got into a verbal argument about $4,000. Things turned physical and Rojas grabbed a hammer from his backpack and struck Hernandez-Vazquez in the head. When Hernandez-Vazquez fell to the ground, Rojas hit him another eight more.
Rojas and his mechanic friend, Oscar Benedicto-Aleman, later placed the victim’s body into the trunk of a 1996 Toyota Camry. Rojas drove the vehicle to Lincoln Park, New Jersey, while Benedicto-Aleman followed in a different car. Rojas and Benedicto-Aleman abandoned the Camry at the bottom of an embankment. The following day, Lincoln Park police discovered the abandoned vehicle with the victim’s body in the trunk.
Rojas and Benedicto-Aleman were arrested and charged with multiple crimes. Rojas eventually went to trial to face charges for first degree murder, kidnapping, unlawful possession of a weapon, theft of movable property, hindering apprehension, and desecrating human remains. (Meanwhile, Benedicto-Aleman made a plea agreement with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and pleaded guilty to desecration of human remains.)
At the end of a trial in Morris County Superior Court, a jury found Rojas guilty on aggravated manslaughter charges, as well as the other felony charges. The superior court judge then sentenced Rojas to 30 years behind bars in NJ State Prison. (20 years for aggravated manslaughter, seven years for desecrating human remains, and three years for hindering apprehension.) When the trial court judge issued the sentence, he noted that Rojas was not truthful when speaking to investigators and showed no remorse for the brutal murder.
New Jersey Court Rejects Appeal in Aggravated Manslaughter Case
Rojas appealed his criminal conviction to the Superior Court of NJ, Appellate Division and argued that his conviction ought to be overturned because the trial court judge did not properly answer questions asked by the jury. Rojas also argued that his legal counsel was ineffective and that the judge’s sentence was “excessive.”
The appellate court rejected and Rojas’ appeal and saw “no reason to disturb the sentences imposed.” The New Jersey appellate court’s ruling means that Rojas will stay in prison until at least 2028 – when he will be eligible for release on parole.
Free Consultation with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Morris County, New Jersey
Travis J. Tormey defends clients against charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and other violent crimes in Morris County, NJ. If you or a loved one was arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, contact Attorney Tormey now to schedule a free consultation at his Morristown office.