Jury finds New Brunswick man guilty of murdering former Rutgers student
The trial of Timothy Puskas concluded Tuesday with the jury finding the 40-year-old New Brunswick resident guilty of the murder of William McCaw, as well as weapons offenses and hindering charges.
On Feb. 15, 2014, McCaw, who had recently transferred from Rutgers to Kean University, was walking to his friend's home alone after attending a party at a Rutgers fraternity house around 3 a.m., according to NJ Advance Media.
The next morning, a neighbor spotted the 22-year-old victim’s body in the backyard of a house on Hartwell Street, 900 feet from Puskas’ home on Plum Street, according to NJ Advance Media.
A jury comprised of seven women and seven men reached their verdict after hearing closing arguments from Puskas' attorney, Joseph Mazraani, and closing statements from Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai on Jan. 6, according to MyCentralJersey.com.
Jurors requested to review evidence again, including testimonies, recorded phone calls, and video surveillance, NJ Advance Media reported. The surveillance allegedly showed Puskas in the early morning of Feb. 15, 2014, walking near the area where the victim’s body was discovered. The defendant's attorney argued during his three-hour closing statement that there was no physical evidence linking Puskas to the murder.
"There's no motive for him to do any of this," Mazraani said during the trial, according to the same report. "He doesn't even know the young man."
In March 2014, authorities charged Puskas with counts related to McCaw’s murder. At this time, Puskas was already in custody at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center in North Brunswick for an unrelated conviction, according to a Daily Targum article.
Two years prior to McCaw’s death, Puskas had been charged with aggravated manslaughter and leaving the scene of an incident, which led to the death of Leonel Lopez Hernandez, a 26-year-old employee of Bristol-Myers Squibb, NJ Advance Media reported.
The 2014 death of McCaw brought to light significant loopholes of Rutgers’ safety system and within the New Brunswick Police Department and Rutgers University Police Department, especially those concerning the safety of students off-campus, according to The Daily Targum.
The incident led the City of New Brunswick to implement a Neighborhood Police Team and to expand their crime notification system, according to the article. This action was taken after more than 2,900 students signed a petition urging the University to send out an official crime notice for the incident.
"We take no joy in the verdict because no matter what the outcome is, it won't bring Billy back," said Bob McCaw, the victim’s father.
Minna Kim is an Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy first-year student. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum.