A man facing aggravated manslaughter charges for allegedly beating a former football player to death in Vernon NJ was recently released from prison after posting a massive bail amount.
The 34-year-old suspect is accused of killing the 36-year-old victim in an attack outside of the Legends Resort hotel, which is located in Vernon, New Jersey. The incident occurred in August 2008.
The suspect and the victim both worked for a pipeline project in the area. The victim was living at Legends, while the suspect had moved approximately an hour away in order to avoid any sort of altercation with the victim.
Witnesses said that the victim harassed and physically attacked the suspect on the night of the deadly altercation. The victim suffered brain trauma as a result of the fight and later died.
The suspect was eventually placed under arrest and charged with aggravated manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a victim.
After a 2011 trial that featured testimony from 26 witnesses, a jury convicted the suspect of aggravated manslaughter. The suspect was then sentenced by a superior court judge to 30 years in NJ State Prison.
However, a New Jersey state appeals court overturned the conviction in January 2015 because the jury had been improperly charged by the trial court judge. According to the appeals court ruling, the superior court judge failed to give jury instructions to consider a justification of self-defense.
Moreover, said the appeals court, the prosecutor in the case improperly cross-examined the suspect about a statement that his brother reportedly made to law enforcement in the aftermath of the fight. The suspect’s brother later pleaded guilty to third degree endangering an injured victim charges because he neglected to dial 911 before leaving the victim behind.
As a result of the appeals court tossing out the conviction, the suspect now faces a new trial. Although jury selection was supposed to begin in May, a Sussex County Superior Court judge granted a defense motion to allow extra time for the suspect to receive a psychiatric evaluation.
If the suspect is convicted on the first degree aggravated manslaughter charges, he could potentially be sentenced to as many as 30 years in New Jersey State Prison.
While the suspect awaits retrial, he will be free on bail. He secured his release from custody after his family posted $275,000 bail. The suspect’s defense attorney said that his client’s release will help him to prepare for the retrial.
For more information about this case, see the NJ.com article entitled “Man Accused of Fatal Beating in Vernon Released on Bail, Report Says.”