NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Can the three-day weekend refresh jurors so that they might return to the courthouse tomorrow ready to decide the murder trial of Timothy Puskas?
That’s what nearly everyone involved with the case is wondering right now.
Puskas has pleaded not guilty to bludgeoning and leaving for dead Billy McCaw, a former Rutgers and Kean University student, in February 2014 in a New Brunswick backyard. After five days of deliberations, the jury has yet to cast judgment on Puskas.
In fact, the jury’s private discussions grew so tense on Friday that one juror claimed to have grown ill from the deliberations and asked to immediately be removed for health reasons. In a note to state Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves, the panel echoed the desire to go home.
“We are quite stressed from our discussions,” they wrote to Nieves, who read the note in court.
Jury deliberations are set to continue tomorrow morning in New Brunswick.
But both the defense and the prosecution were told to look into the possibility of substituting the sick juror with an alternate.
Attorney Joseph Mazraani, who represents Puskas, said in court he was concerned that the juror in question had grown “confused.”
Before relieving the jurors for the weekend, Nieves took several deep breaths, suggesting they do the same. Some smiled after the judge’s plea for relaxation, while others remained stone-faced.
The trial has gone on for more than 10 weeks.
Some of McCaw’s family members who are from Tennessee have stayed in the area throughout that period, often coming to court to show their support for the victim.
McCaw was found on the morning of Feb. 15, 2014, in a backyard off Hartwell Street. His blood stained the snow, and his face had been beaten with an unknown weapon.
The state has claimed that Puskas killed McCaw in a fit of rage. The defense has argued that Puskas was framed for the murder.