Law & Justice

For Murder Victim’s Family, A Guilty Verdict Means Justice

Attorney Joseph Mazraani talks to his client, Timothy Puskas, who was found guilty on Jan. 17 of murdering Billy McCaw.
Billy McCaw Credits: Facebook
Timothy Puskas stares down this morning, Jan. 17, after being found guilty of killing Billy McCaw.
Assistant prosecutor Bina Desai hugs someone in the courthouse on Jan. 17 after Timothy Puskas was found guilty of killing Billy McCaw.
A Middlesex County Sheriff's officer ushers Timothy Puskas out of the courtroom.
Middlesex County Sheriff's officers cuff Timothy Puskas.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Few in the courtroom this morning expected to hear the words so soon.

After making sure a juror who fell ill last week was better, state Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves announced around 10 a.m. that the jury had reached a verdict in the trial of Timothy Puskas. The New Brunswick resident had pleaded not guilty to killing Billy McCaw, a former Rutgers student, in February 2014 and then disposing of the weapon.

The room sat mostly silent, with whispers floating among seated cops and attorneys, as the jury walked in. Last Friday, jurors complained that the deliberations had grown stressful. Minutes before the verdict was delivered, both the defense and the prosecution discussed the possibility of substituting in an alternate juror.

Sign Up for E-News

But the jury’s foreman then stood up and announced the decision: They found Puskas guilty on all four murder, weapons and hindering charges.

Some jurors appeared to wipe tears from their eyes as the proceedings progressed.

“We take no joy in the verdict because no matter what the outcome was, it wasn’t going to bring Billy back,” the victim’s dad, Bob McCaw, later said outside the courtroom as tears trickled down his cheeks. “There’s relief that other students and young people are safer for this verdict, and that Mr. Puskas will not be on the streets to hurt any more people.”

Upon hearing the verdict, some members of the victim’s family broke out into tears and hugs. For them, Bob McCaw said, the guilty verdict meant justice had been served.

Although Puskas, 41, sat with his back to observers, he looked down toward the ground and appeared stone-faced when cops cuffed his wrists and ankles.

He lived on Plum Street in New Brunswick, a block from the Hartwell Street backyard where McCaw’s battered body was found on the morning of Feb. 15, 2014.

The prosecution claimed Puskas used a tool to kill McCaw and got rid of the weapon before detectives caught on to him. Puskas, the state claimed, killed the young man because he was angry about thefts from his bank account.

“There is no justifying such a brutal and senseless murder,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said in a written statement. “However, I hope that the guilty verdict gives Billy’s family and friends some sense of closure and peace.”

Upon hearing the verdict, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai began wiping tears from her eyes. She tightly hugged her colleagues and McCaw’s family members.

There was a sense of relief among the prosecution and McCaw’s supporters. The trial, which began with jury selection in October and spanned 14 hours of jury deliberations, was over.

Bob McCaw and his wife, who listened to the verdict over a cellphone while she cared for a sick child, spent more than 10 weeks in the courtroom, away from their home in Tennessee.

“I get to go home,” the father told reporters outside the courtroom, thanking prosecutors, detectives and his son’s supporters. “We’ve had friends and family in the courtroom every single day throughout this process. I’ve said many times that I don’t know how anybody goes through this kind of thing alone.”

No such relief exists for Puskas. He remains in custody, serving seven years for a prior fatal hit-and-run conviction.

He will be sentenced to serve between 30 years and life in prison for the murder of McCaw. The state has yet to schedule a sentencing date.

Though more symbolic than anything, Nieves revoked Puskas’s bail following the guilty verdict.

Attorney Joseph Mazraani, who represents Puskas, could not immediately be reached for comment. Throughout the trial, Mazraani claimed that his client had been framed by roommates who thought Puskas planned to inform the police of a burglary ring with which they were involved.

Prior to the verdict, Mazraani said he believed a lack of jury instructions regarding an edited audio recording that was submitted as evidence could constitute a mistrial.

Whether Puskas will appeal the jury’s decision remains unclear.

Before discharging the jury, Nieves praised the members for fulfilling their civic duty.

“You went above and beyond,” he told them, noting the lengthy nature of the trial.

McCaw was killed after a night of partying at Rutgers frat houses. Hundreds of people attended a candlelight vigil in his honor shortly after he was beaten and left for dead.

For now, McCaw’s friends and family plan to focus on keeping alive the popular college student’s legacy. They have started a scholarship and a soccer tournament in his name.

“Billy’s memory lives on,” Bob McCaw said. “As long as I’m alive, we will carry that on.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - June 22, 2018

TRENTON - Well, the state Legislature passed a budget yesterday. But that matters little in the overall drama, as it now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy and his sharp red pen. The governor still remains as odds with his Democratic counterparts who left a meeting with him yesterday claiming no progress. He's "completely dishonest with us," charges Senate President Steve Sweeney.

The Jaffe Briefing - June 21, 2018

TRENTON - No one questions that the state pension system is a mess. And that's why some proposed legislation is getting a critical eye. Politico says the Assembly is set to vote on a bill today that it claims is "expressly written" to fatten the pensions of Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) and state Sen. James Beach (D-Camden) without them having to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 20, 2018

STATEWIDE - What? So you are saying the state's pawn shops, second-hand stores and scrap metal yards are mob-infested? How could that possibly be? Well, just ask the scrappy State Commission of Investigation, which issued the 100-page report yesterday detailing how the mob is encouraging drug addicts to steal items to fuel this in-the-dark industry. Not only are these ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 19, 2018

TRENTON - It is June. That must mean our state lawmakers are yelling at each other over the proposed state budget, which must be adopted by the end of the month or government shuts down. Some media is refraining from coverage of the daily blow-by-blow, as the typical resident just assumes taxes will go up, no matter what. But, here is the latest. Gov. Phil Murphy has his proposed ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 18, 2018

DOWN THE SHORE - If you see all those mega-mansions on the beach, and admit to being just a wee bit jealous, here's something to quietly smile about: All of those glorious homes will likely be underwater.  NJ Spotlight reports rising sea levels make the New Jersey coast particularly vulnerable, with the Garden State ranking second to Florida with the biggest chronic risk ...

The Jaffe Briefing - June 15, 2018

JERSEY CITY - Should topless women be allowed in the city?  That's the big issue consuming the City Council these days, as members continue to debate 1980s-era obscenity laws. There was supposed to be a vote at the council meeting on Wednesday, but it didn't happen. Before there is a vote, it appears the goal is to wrangle support of all nine members of the City Council. The nagging ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, June 26, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...


Wed, June 27, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. New Britain Bees Baseball ...

Wed, June 27, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Two to Feature Vivaldi ...

Arts & Entertainment

Rutgers-led “Tick Blitz” finds exotic Longhorned Ticks statewide

June 5, 2018

New Brunswick, N.J. - Researchers at  University–New Brunswick’s Rutgers Center for Vector Biology have found exotic longhorned ticks in four New Jersey counties – and confirmed that these northeast Asian ticks have been present in the Garden State since at least 2013.

The new detection of these ticks in Mercer County was made through the first-ever statewide ...

Rutgers football stadium has a new name

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Many still call it Rutgers Stadium.

But for seven years, the university's football stadium has been known as High Point Solutions Stadium, thanks to a $600,000 annual agreement with a Sparta-based company. But, as the company has shifted its marketing, so has the stadium's name.

So, now, Rutgers is officially home to " Stadium" for the 2018 ...

Composer lyrisicist Sondheim at Rutgers, tells would-be writers ‘it’s hard work’

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Acclaimed Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim says his work is less about talent and more about the labor and drudgery of “hard work.”

“It’s not about waiting for inspiration. It’s not about talent,” Sondheim said Friday while speaking before an audience at Rutgers University’s Nicholas Music Center.

“You ...

City recognizes New Brunswick ball player inducted into women’s Hall of Fame

June 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ  - Chris Dailey grew up in the city, and played basketball for St. Peter's High School and  Rutgers University, and was on the team that won a national AIAW championship her senior year in college.

She became an assistant coach at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., then was an assistant to Rutgers coach Theresa Grentz before becoming an assistant coach on ...


New Brunswick journalism teacher offers thanks

June 22, 2018

Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,

As the year comes to a close, I want to offer you my sincere thanks for how you positively impacted my students this year.

In their end of year reflections, the students recounted what it meant for them to get their stories published.  Assignments were no longer something just connected to a grade, it was also connected to their passion.

The positive ...

Promise Culinary School Slates Open Houses June 21 and 22 In New Brunswick with Tours, Tastings, Prizes

June 20, 2018

Promise Culinary School will host open houses for the community and prospective students on Thursday, June 21, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and on Friday, June 22, from noon to 4 p.m. at 211 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick. The events are free and open to the public.

The events will include kitchen tours, demonstrations, tastings, raffles and prizes. Tours and activities will be ...

Ensure Safe Sleep While Traveling with Baby

June 6, 2018

As we approach the summer, there will be plenty of expected travel for families, from visiting grandma at the beach to heading out on a long, well-deserved vacation. 

When staying overnight at a friend’s or family’s place, it is important to maintain the same sleep practices as you do at home. Your baby should be sleeping in a safe, modern crib that meets the latest ...