NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The jury in the murder trial of Timothy Puskas, who is accused of killing college student Billy McCaw almost three years ago, is now in its fifth day of deliberations.
It’s unclear if the jury will render a verdict today, or if a decision will come next week.
McCaw was found beaten to death on the morning of Feb. 15, 2014, in a snow-covered backyard off Hartwell Street in New Brunswick. The slaying of the 22-year-old former Rutgers student shocked the university community and ignited a month-long police investigation that resulted in murder and weapons charges against Puskas.
Puskas, who has pleaded not guilty, lived on nearby Plum Street at the time of the murder. The defense has claimed his roommates set him up because they feared he would inform the police of a burglary ring with which they were involved.
The prosecution, on the other hand, has claimed Puskas bludgeoned McCaw to death in a fit of rage, following a divorce and thefts from his bank account.
So far, the trial has spanned seven days of jury selection, 29 days of testimony and five days of jury deliberations, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai said this morning in court.
Both sides delivered their arguments in mid-November. Since then, dozens of witnesses have taken the stand.
State Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves, who presides over the case, has expressed concern for the lengthy nature of the trial. Last Friday, for instance, jurors were still listening to closing arguments after 5 p.m.
McCaw’s family, some of whom live in Tennessee, have stayed in New Jersey, making their presence known in the courtroom throughout the trial.
Jurors today listened intently today as the court replayed testimony from a city cop and the recording of a phone call between Puskas and a friend. Some jurors leaned forward, squinting their eyes as if deeply concentrating, as they re-watched security camera footage that the prosecution claimed shows McCaw’s movements shortly before his death.
Both the prosecution and the defense have described the camera footage and the phone call as major pieces of evidence in the case.
Attorney Joseph Mazraani, who represents Puskas, said earlier today that he believed some jurors have grown frustrated.
Puskas is currently serving time after pleading guilty in 2015 to vehicular homicide after hitting a man on a bicycle in 2012 and leaving the scene.