Former Rutgers football player refuses plea deal for alleged murder plot
Former Rutgers football player Izaia Bullock, who was charged in an alleged plot to kill his ex-girlfriend's parents, rejected a plea deal for a four-year prison sentence, which would also have made him eligible for supervised release after six months, according to NJ Advance Media.
The Daily Targum previously reported in October 2018 that Bullock, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, was arrested on two counts of attempted murder in the first degree and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, according to a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.
Bullock was charged that same month following an investigation from the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office that determined he initiated a plot to murder the family members of an acquaintance.
A few days later, in early November, he was given an additional charge: one count of cyber harassment in the fourth degree, according to the Targum. Prosecutors also said that he made threats to share intimate photos of his ex-girlfriend.
If he is convicted of the first-degree charges, Bullock could face 10 to 20 years in a state prison, with the additional requirement that he serves 85 percent of the sentence imposed before being eligible for parole.
On Monday, Bullock went to a post-indictment arraignment hearing before Judge Pedro Jimenez at Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick, and was represented by public defender John Johnson, who took over from Bullock's previous attorney Steve Altman.
In February, the grand jury issued that Bullock was indicted of initiating a plot to murder the family of his ex-girlfriend and making it appear to be a murder-suicide, and was alleged to have discussed forcing his ex-girlfriend's mother to drink a beverage containing crushed medicine.
Another person, who was allegedly going to be a getaway driver in the murder attempts, recorded Bullock and later turned over the evidence to the RUPD, making it aware of the incident, according to authorities.
The police then discovered a cup containing crushed-up Tylenol, as well as a mask and gloves when they searched his car.
Megan Kosovich, a Middlesex County assistant prosecutor, described the plot as "meticulously planned" in a previous court hearing, and said that Bullock had previously searched online for various methods of death.
Kosovich told the judge on Monday that the state was offering a four-year prison term in exchange for a plea deal to modify charges, which would downgrade the charges of first-degree attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder to third-degree charges of aggravated assault and hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Prosecutors were also asked for guilty pleas to third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and fourth-degree cyber harassment.
The deal offered on Monday is subject to change, though, since Kosovich told the judge that prosecutors would file an escalating plea-offer policy.
Johnson ended up rejecting the plea deal, and said he planned to file a motion to completely dismiss the indictments. He also filed a motion to suppress Bullock's statements to authorities and a motion to modify his pretrial release.
Last November, Jimenez had ruled against the prosecutor's request for pretrial detention. Jimenez then freed Bullock on the condition that he remain at home and wear a monitored electronic bracelet, as well as not come into contact with alleged victims in the case. Johnson said these pretrial release modifications would be made to allow Bullock to attend religious services on Sundays.
"I have received a copy of the plea offer, it’s something that has been conveyed to Mr. Bullock and his family (and) we understand the aforementioned that there is going to be an escalating plea policy," Johnson said to Jimenez. “Your honor, Mr. Bullock and I reject the plea offer and we understand the consequences of that rejection."
The next status conference will be May 13.