Judgment of Acquittal Standard (Part 4)

by | Dec 13, 2021 | Blog, Criminal Law, Monmouth County, New Jersey, Ocean County

The New Jersey Supreme court continued in relevant part: In April 1992, investigators searched a wooded area on the Raritan Center property. On the first day of the search, a right sneaker with Ninja Turtle images on it was found. It was later identified as the other half of the pair of sneakers purchased by defendant for Timmy. Later that day, an investigator found the skull of a child. Using dental records, investigators identified it as Timmy’s skull. Told by Sayreville police detectives that a skull had been found at the Raritan Center and it was “most probably” Timmy’s skull, defendant displayed “no reaction.”

During the search, Butkiewicz found a partially-buried blanket within about twenty feet of the location where the skull was found. After dredging a portion of a creek that ran through the area, investigators found leg bones later identified as Timmy’s and two waistbands that appeared to be the remnants of clothing. The blanket, sneakers, waistbands, and other items found were sent to an FBI laboratory for testing. That testing revealed no evidence. A Sayreville police officer showed defendant and her parents the blanket; they stated that they did not recognize it. For more than two decades after Timmy’s disappearance, there were no significant developments in the investigation, and no one was charged in connection with his death. Defendant moved to Florida, where she raised two sons and worked as a paralegal.

In 2011, an investigator reopened the investigation. He interviewed family members and friends of defendant and showed them the blanket and other items that had been discovered near Timmy’s remains. Several witnesses, including witnesses who were familiar with the home, stated that they did not recognize the items. Blair-Dilcher, who was estranged from her aunt and cooperating with the police, stated that she recognized the blanket as one she had seen in defendant’s home. In July 2014, a grand jury indicted defendant. After the indictment and before trial, Gerding and Matthews also stated that they recognized the blanket from defendant’s home. None of the photographs introduced into evidence at the trial showed the blanket.

It is common for jurors to disregard instructions from the Court with regard to doing their own research and considering findings which are not credible evidence. During my last jury trial in Monmouth County, a juror informed the court that another juror had lied during the selection process. In questioning the remaining jurors about the juror who had admitted to lying, it was determined that a second juror had also lied. At that point the court declared a mistrial.