A resident of Orange Township was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the killing and robbery of a man they were meant to purchase marijuana from. Joseph Villani and his girlfriend Raquel Garajau made a plan to rip off dealer Trupal Patel on February 6, 2017, when Patel came to Villani’s home to sell them the marijuana. It was then that Villani shot and killed the man, stole the drugs and his possessions, and dumped his body in a nearby park. He was sentenced to 30 years for aggravated manslaughter (of which he must serve 25 and a half), and another 10 years for desecrating Patel’s remains.
Originally, Villani claimed that he committed the crime on his own, but later on accused Garajau of masterminding and orchestrating the event. Garajau stood trial in 2018 and was found guilty of felony murder as well as 15 other crimes. She was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
Manslaughter and Felony Murder In New Jersey
The simple definition of a homicide is the killing of a human being by another. Murder is where the prosecution must prove that the death was planned or premeditated, while the lesser charge of manslaughter only requires a reckless conduct that results in the death of another. Crimes of passion are charged under the manslaughter statute, for example. Aggravated manslaughter is defined as “recklessly causing the death of another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.” This refers to the circumstances of the death. If the defendant’s conduct created a probability of death occurring, they can be found guilty under the New Jersey statute. Although Villani may not have planned to kill Patel when he entered the house, the circumstances of the gun and the robbery meant that he could be convicted of this charge. Aggravated manslaughter is a first degree crime, and that means the defendant could be sentenced of 10 to 30 years in prison. Desecrating human remains is a second degree crime that carries a punishment of up to 10 years.
The charge of felony murder is a unique one. Unlike the standard murder definition, the person charged did not actually kill the victim themselves. Instead, felony murder is when someone is killed during the commission of a felony crime, such as a robbery, a sex crime, arson, burglary, et cetera. Prosecutors do not need to prove an intent to kill the victim. As long as the person was killed attempting, fleeing, or during the commission of the felony, the felony murder charge applies. Felony murder convictions carry the possibility of life in prison, depending on the circumstances. You may also be forced to pay funeral costs of the victim and restitution to their family.
Caught Up In A Violent Crime? Seek Legal Help!
If you are caught up in the commission of a violent crime, there are serious possible consequences for everyone involved. Years in prison followed by parole and probation and heavy fines mean that you’ll want to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as you possibly can. Whether it means accepting a plea deal or heading to trial, someone familiar with the laws and sentencing guidelines is the best person to develop a strategy for your defense after being arrested.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Charges in New Jersey Today!
Were you arrested or charged with manslaughter in NJ? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. Jill R. Cohen has successfully represented clients charged with assault in Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, and Burlington County, NJ. Call 856-754-5501 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue , Westmont, NJ 08108.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.