Wife of accused killer could play big role in murder trial
The wife of a man accused in a 2015 Hamilton Township killing could play prominently in his murder trial next month. Dennis J. Munoz, now 40, is charged with shooting Michael Black in the chest Nov. 9, 2015, in Hamilton Township. Munoz and alleged accomplice Edwin Velazquez will go on trial April 8. Recorded calls Munoz made to his wife from jail may be used to prove that Velazquez conspired with Munoz in the killing, according to information discussed in court Thursday. But the woman also may play a part in the defense’s plan to cast doubt on the state’s case and offer another potential suspect in the killing. Michael Robinson, who now lives with Munoz’s wife and is expecting his second child with her, gave investigators an interview last year, but that information was not shared with the defense until Feb. 13, just weeks before the trial was set to begin. The woman was texting both Black and Robinson at the same time on the night of the killing, Marquez said. Munoz and Velazquez, who allegedly conspired to kill Black, did not text one another before the killing, she noted. Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey said Robinson’s statement was not immediately shared with the defense because there was a witness tampering investigation being conducted in the case at the time. Marquez argued that there was no mention in Robinson’s statement that there had been any witness tampering concerning him, and that it should not have been delayed. Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury disagreed, noting that a new indictment followed adding first-degree witness tampering to the list of charges. DeLury ordered that the state get Robinson and Munoz’s wife — who live out of state — to the defense for an interview. The judge turned down a defense motion to delay the trial, since Marquez and Velazquez’s attorney, Meg Hoerner, just learned last month that an FBI cell phone expert was on the state’s witness list. But he did allow for some leeway on how the trial progresses to give the defense time to have its own expert look over the report and create one of his own. Hoerner raised issue with comments Munoz made to his family about her client during recorded phone calls after he was arrested. Those calls, according to what was said in court, were also to Munoz’s wife. The calls basically say, “I’ve been caught. They have nothing,” Marquez told the judge. But McKelvey said they were more than that, with a number of calls meant to get messages to Velazquez. “Tell him they got me,” McKelvey quoted Munoz. “Tell Edwin they are playing a bluff game with him.”
Slain Mays Landing man’s 911 call admissible in murder case, judge rules
A Mays Landing man’s dying call to 911 after he had been shot can be played at his alleged killer’s trial, a judge ruled Friday. “I’ve just been shot,” Michael Black told a 911 operator … Read more…
An earlier court hearing revealed that Black named Munoz as the shooter when the mortally wounded man called 911. The operator asks if he knows who shot him. “Yes, I know exactly who shot me,” Black replies in the call previously played in court. “His name is Wolf.” Wolf was Munoz’s nickname, the state alleges. Jury selection is set for Tuesday. Trial is set to begin April 8.