NATIONAL NEWS

New Jersey man acquitted in retrial in 2014 beating death of college student from Tennessee

Feb 24, 2024, 8:20 AM

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man has been acquitted in a retrial in the beating death of a college student from Tennessee a decade ago.

Jurors in Middlesex County deliberated for five hours before acquitting Timothy Puskas of all charges Wednesday in the 2014 death of 22-year-old former Rutgers student William McCaw of Gallatin, Tennessee.

“I only wish my mother were still alive to see me cleared of this injustice,” Puskas said in a statement Thursday. He offered his “heart and prayers” to the McCaw family but said, “Contrary to what you have been led to believe, I did not assault nor kill your beloved son.”

McCaw had been walking home from a party before his body was found in deep snow in a New Brunswick backyard in February 2014. County prosecutors said he had been beaten to death with something like a crowbar or a wrench. He was attending Kean College but formerly attended Rutgers and frequently returned to the New Brunswick area.

Puskas was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 40 years, but a state appeals court overturned the conviction in 2021, saying no physical evidence linked him to the crime and surveillance videos didn’t show any interaction between him and the victim. The appeals court also said prosecutors should not have been allowed to use as evidence a recorded conversation between the defendant and someone who died before the trial.

Defense attorney Joseph Mazraani tried to cast doubt on prosecution theories about the slaying and said other witnesses blamed his client to get lenient sentences for themselves. He said Puskas “wants to gather his life back together as best as he can” and called the case ”a devastating example of what happens when cooperators and informants are not closely scrutinized, when prosecutors are not held accountable and when law enforcement fail to investigate properly.”

A Facebook post attributed to the victim’s father, Bob McCaw, on a memorial site said jurors were not allowed under New Jersey law to know some things about the defendant and the case. He expressed gratitude to prosecutors for their efforts and said “the fight is always worth it and love always wins.”

National News

Associated Press

Chicago shooting kills 7-year-old girl and wounds 7 people including small children, police say

CHICAGO (AP) — Eight people were shot including a young girl who was killed in what Chicago police believe was gang-related violence on the city’s South Side on Saturday night. The 7-year-old girl was shot in the head and died, while a 1-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and listed […]

40 minutes ago

Associated Press

A jury of his peers: A look at how jury selection will work in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s history-making criminal trial is set to start Monday with a simple but extraordinary procedural step that is vital to American democracy. A group of regular citizens — Trump’s peers, in the eyes of the law — will be chosen to decide whether the former president of the United States […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities say 4 people are dead after a train collided with a pickup in rural Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Four people are dead after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a train in rural Idaho Saturday, authorities said. Idaho State Police said the pickup was carrying a 38-year-old man, 36-year-old woman and two children, who were all from Nampa. The vehicle was traveling on a private road […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman with history of DUIs sentenced to 15 years to life for California crash that killed mom-to-be

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California woman with a history of convictions for driving under the influence has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for a crash that killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman and left her baby in critical condition. Courtney Pandolfi, 44, pleaded guilty to second degree murder earlier […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Utah school board member who questioned a student’s gender loses party nomination for reelection

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A conservative Utah State Board of Education member who faced calls to resign after lawmakers said she bullied a student on social media lost her nomination for reelection Saturday. Natalie Cline needed at least 40% of the delegate votes at the Salt Lake County Republican Convention, but she fell short […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Sex crimes charges dropped against California Marine after missing teen found in barracks

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California Marine accused of having sex with a missing 14-year-old girl found in his Camp Pendleton barracks room last summer no longer faces sex crimes charges, military officials said this week. Under an agreement offered by his defense attorney, Pfc. Avery Rosario pleaded guilty Tuesday to breach of restriction, […]

11 hours ago

New Jersey man acquitted in retrial in 2014 beating death of college student from Tennessee