Elizabeth NJ Man Gets Murder Conviction Overturned
An Elizabeth NJ man who was convicted of murder nearly 20 years ago has gotten his murder conviction overturned.
Gerard Richardson served nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of murder in 1995. Mr. Richardson was just 28 years old when he was convicted of killing Monica Reyes. Now, in light of new DNA evidence, Mr. Richardson’s conviction has been 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. Prosecutors connected Mr. Richardson to Ms. Reyes through drug money: Mr. Richardson had allegedly threatened to kill Ms. Reyes after she failed to pay him for drugs.
The State’s case against Mr. Richardson was supported by expert testimony from a forensic odontologist, who matched a bite mark on Ms. Reyes’ back to Mr. Richardson’s teeth.
After being convicted, Mr. Richardson was sentenced to 30 years in New Jersey State Prison. However, a DNA test later connected the bite mark on Ms. Reyes’ back to an unknown male. Because of the new findings, defense attorneys filed a motion to vacate Mr. Richardson’s conviction, a motion that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office declined to oppose.
Although Mr. Richardson’s conviction was vacated, State prosecutors can still elect to conduct a new trial. Prosecutors might 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, prosecutors could dispute the reliability of the new expert testimony analyzing Mr. Richardson’s teeth.
For more information about this case, see the NJ.com article entitled “After Nearly 20 Years in Prison, Elizabeth Man Likely to Have His Murder Conviction Vacated Today.“