FLEMINGTON, NJ – A man guilty of what the county prosecutor calls a “heinous murder” has been re-sentenced to state prison after an order from the state’s Superior Court Appellate Division.
Gary Passarelli, 45, formerly of North Plainfield, had been found guilty of the 2013 murder of John H. Niko of Raritan Township.
In May, 2013, Raritan Township police found Niko’s body while conducting a welfare check at his home after he failed to show up for work. The Hunterdon County Medical Examiner determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and chest and multiple sharp force injuries. A joint investigation by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and Raritan Township police resulted in Passarelli’s arrest.
In Nov., 2015, a Hunterdon County jury found Passarelli guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, and third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Passarelli was sentenced the following February by Judge Angela F. Borkowski to 60 years in state prison.
The conviction and sentence was appealed. Last December, the Appellate Division upheld the conviction, but reversed and remanded the judge’s sentencing decision. It ordered that the trial court consider Passarelli’s age at his earliest possible release date.
Assistant Prosecutor David P. Culley vigorously argued against the resentencing, but ultimately Judge Borkowski resentenced Passarelli to 35 years in state prison. He will be ineligible for parole for 30 years.
“We are not satisfied with the reduction in Mr. Passarelli’s sentence and find it insufficient in light of this heinous murder,” said Hunterdon County Prosecutor Anthony P. Kearns, III in a press release. “Our hearts go out in sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased.”