Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that the New Jersey Supreme Court denied the prosecutor’s motion for leave to appeal the ruling suppressing the statement given by Gerardo Gomez in connection with the August 2007 Newark school yard slaying case.
Earlier this year a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court ruled the statement given to law enforcement by Gomez was inadmissible in court because the Miranda warnings given to Gomez’ mother in Spanish along with statements made by police did not adequately address the mother’s questions.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office strongly disagreed with those findings and asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to take the case and reverse the appellate court ruling. It is the position of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office that Gomez knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to remain silent.
Today the state’s highest court refused to intervene, leaving in place the appellate court ruling suppressing Gomez’s statement.
“We are disappointed with the Court’s decision not to hear our motion but we believe we still have a very solid case against defendant Gomez and we plan to move forward, ’’ said Assistant Prosecutor Thomas McTigue.
In a 17-count indictment, Gomez is charged with three counts of murder, three counts of felony murder, one count of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and various weapons offenses. Along with Gomez, Rodolfo Godinez, Jose Carranza, Melvin Jovel, Alexander Alfaro and Shahid Baskerville were also charged in connection with the triple homicide and the attempted murder.
Earlier this year, Godinez was convicted by an Essex County jury on all 17 charges. Jovel pleaded guilty to the murders. All other defendants are awaiting trial.
On Aug. 4, 2007 at approximately 11:30 p.m. three Delaware State University students – Dashon Harvey, Iofemi Hightower and Terrence Aeriel were fatally shot in the play ground at Mount Vernon School. A fourth student, Natasha Aeriel, was shot but survived her injuries.
Gomez, who was 15 years old at the time, was arrested in connection with the triple murder and attempted murder.
“While we disagree with the Court ruling, barring this piece of evidence, we respect it and understand we must abide by the Court’s decision. We will now move forward with the case, relying on other evidence,’’ said assistant Prosecutor Romesh Sukhdeo, who is trying the school yard slaying cases along with Assistant Prosecutor McTigue.
These are mere accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.