New Jersey’s Supreme Court tossed a 2016 conviction of a Florida mother for killing her 5-year-old son in 1991 on Tuesday, as the prosecution failed to present enough evidence that the woman had murdered the boy.
Michelle Lodzinski — who had given varying accounts of what happened on the day 5-year-old Timothy Wiltsey disappeared only to turn up dead a year later — long remained a prime suspect in one of the most widely known unresolved cases of murder in New Jersey, according to The Associated Press.
New Jersey Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling in favor of vacating her murder conviction has reversed the 2016 jury verdict and resulted in Lodzinski’s release from prison, where she had spent more than seven years, NJ reported.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court has thrown out the 2016 conviction of a Florida woman convicted of killing her 5-year-old son 25 years earlier. Michelle Lodzinski has been serving a 30-year sentence without parole for the 1991 killing. https://t.co/vdwQQoXy9E
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 28, 2021
“This is a great day for the rule of law and for the proposition that convictions have to be based on evidence, not on speculation or emotion,” Lodzinski’s attorney Gerald Krovatin said, noting that the decision would mean that his client cannot be tried again, AP reported. (RELATED: Babysitter Charged With Murder After Victim Dies 37 Years Later)
“[N]o reasonable jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Lodzinski purposefully or knowingly caused Timothy’s death,” Justice Barry Albin wrote in the majority opinion, adding that “no testimony or evidence was offered to distinguish whether Timothy died by the negligent, reckless, or purposeful or knowing acts of a person, even if that person were Lodzinski.”
The three opposing justices called the decision a “grave injustice to the victim,” saying that the reversal of the jury’s verdict undermined the core principles of the justice system, according to NJ.
Lodzinski, a single mother at the time, told police that her son disappeared at a carnival in Sayreville in May 1991. She later gave conflicting accounts of the event, including various descriptions of strangers whom she suspected in being involved in a kidnapping of Timothy, whose remains were found around a year later nearby an office complex where Lodzinski once worked, according to AP.
New Jersey authorities charged Lodzinski with Timothy’s murder in 2014. By that time, the woman had given birth to two other children. The charges were brought after Timothy’s babysitters identified a blue blanket, found alongside the boy’s body, as belonging to the mother, AP reported.