Middlesex County News

Jury To Decide If New Brunswick Man Murdered a College Student

Timothy Puskas enters the courtroom on Friday, Jan. 6.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A jury is deciding whether a city man beat and left for dead Billy McCaw, a 22-year-old college student, on a cold, snowy weekend three years ago in a New Brunswick backyard.

Timothy Puskas, who lived a block from the Hartwell Street property where McCaw was found on Feb. 15, 2014 after being bludgeoned to death, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the Kean University student.

Both the defense and the prosecution presented closing arguments on Friday, painting vastly-different pictures of what happened the night of the slaying and during the subsequent police investigation.

Sign Up for E-News

“There is not a hair. There is not a fiber. There is not a drop of blood,” defense attorney Joseph Mazraani said. “There is nothing connecting Tim to the crime scene, nothing connecting Tim to this victim.”

The police investigation of the murder was flawed since its inception, Mazraani claimed. He said pressure from higher-ups and the Rutgers community pushed detectives to target an “innocent local” who was incapable of killing McCaw, a former Rutgers student.

The investigation relied on the word of several “rats” who lived with Puskas on Plum Street, Mazraani said. He claimed some people tried to frame Puskas because he planned to inform police of a burglary ring with which they were involved.

“Folks, a foundation built by rats cannot withstand this storm,” Mazraani told the jury. “It just cannot.”

Meanwhile, the defense attorney said, police overlooked leads that could have nailed the killer. Other possible perpetrators included a man who was found in possession of McCaw’s cellphone, young men who were jealous of McCaw spending time with their girlfriends and individuals who were involved with drugs, Mazraani claimed.

He said police and prosecutors merely performed a “surface scratching” of these other leads and instead let their “narrative” decide the course of the investigation.

In her closing statement, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai decidedly disagreed with Mazraani’s portrayal of the murder investigation.

“This was not a rush to judgment like the defense would have you believe,” she said. “The evidence led to the defendant’s arrest, not the other way around.”

Detectives looked into other possible killers and scenarios, but Puskas emerged as the killer, Desai claimed.

Some of his roommates claimed to have heard someone, presumably Puskas, leave his home around the believed time of the murder, a claim cast into doubt by Mazraani.

Although some of the prosecution’s witnesses were not exactly upstanding citizens, they were the people who lived with and knew Puskas, she said.

The defense theorized that McCaw may have met up with other friends before being attacked. Desai noted that no one has come forward with such information.

“You’d also have to believe that the people he was drinking with were the ones that killed him,” she added.

The prosecution and the defense disagreed on the likely time of McCaw’s death and the route he took to get to Hartwell Street.

McCaw was killed after a night of partying at two Rutgers frat houses. From there, prosecutors believe he walked down Hamilton Street and encountered an enraged Puskas on or near Hartwell.

Desai portrayed Puskas as an enraged man who was upset after a divorce and a theft from his bank account. He walked the streets of New Brunswick that night, “seeking someone to hurt,” she claimed.

But the defense said Puskas was a sick, sad man dealing with his mother’s ailing health. He had already known about the thefts against him for weeks by the time McCaw was killed and was more prone to whining than battering people, Mazraani said.

Police have neither identified nor found the weapon used to murder McCaw. The defense said Puskas never saw it, while the prosecution claims he hid or destroyed it.

Many of McCaw’s family members have traveled from Tennessee to watch the trial unfold, wearing red-and-black clothing and Rutgers gear. Some held their faces as the two sides presented their closing statements, while others teared up.

For them—and the shocked Rutgers community—the jury’s looming verdict could offer a sense of closure.

Being found not guilty would end a years-long “nightmare” for Puskas, who was found guilty two years ago of a fatal hit-and-run crash.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Steven Cahn for Ward 3 Piscataway Township Council

May 19, 2018

Why I am Running for Township Council:

I am running for re-election for the 3rd Ward Piscataway Township Council position because I want to remain part of the team that has been very successful in making great improvements to our community in recent years. We have been named three times (2008, 2010, 2014) by MONEY Magazine as one of the best towns to live in America. I am also running because ...

Michele Lombardi for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council

Hello, I’m Michele Lombardi, your Piscataway fourth ward councilwoman. I’m asking for your support in the upcoming democratic primary race on Tuesday June 5th. I care about what happens here in Piscataway.

I have lived in Piscataway my whole life, I was raised by parents who have strong family values and taught me to be involved in my community. My dad was a volunteer firefighter ...

Mohammed Raqeeb for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council

Mohammed Raqeeb for Ward 4 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 4?

Piscataway is a very special place to my family and me. Along with my wife, I have been a homeowner here for 13 years, where we are raising our 3 children. I am running to be the Ward 4 representative on Piscataway’s Township ...

Frank Uhrin for Ward 1 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election to the Piscataway Township Council?

Little League baseball and Pop Warner Football have taught me a lot: teamwork matters, hard work counts, and there is a place and role for everyone.I cherish the time I spend as a Little League commissioner and Pop Warner president because the sparkle in every child’s eye when he or she makes a great play or comes to ...

Dr. Tom Connors for Ward 2 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 2?

I have been a resident of Piscataway for the past 30 years.   I have been a Democrat my entire life.  I am running for election because I'm tired of Piscataway’s career politicians who have made decades of unfulfilled promises. In my book, they get a failing grade for how they have handled the ...

Staci Berger for Ward 3 Piscataway Township Council, June 5 Democratic Primary

1. Why are you running for election for Piscataway Township Council, Ward 3?

I am running for the Piscataway Township Council Ward 3 position because our community needs new leadership. I will be the independent, principled, and collaborative advocate our neighborhood deserves.

I have been a Piscataway homeowner for 20 years.  I am proud that my husband, Bill Irwin, and I are raising ...

Dr. Jacqueline Littlejohn - Candidate for Piscataway Town Council

Why are you running for election to the Piscataway Township Council?

I am running for election to the Piscataway Township Council because I believe that a vibrant democracy only flourishes when the governed have a voice in their government, be it in the form of compromise, protest, or even becoming viable candidates themselves. I have chosen the latter approach. As a candidate I want to be the ...

The Piscataway Democratic Organization Names its 2018 Ward Slate

The Piscataway Democratic Party is putting forward an incredible slate of ward candidates for the Township Council.  “Frank Uhrin, Jim Bullard, Steven D. Cahn and Michele Lombardi have brought us a 12 percent drop in the tax rate, many new job opportunities for hard working residents, and a rise in property values,” party chair and former mayor, Ted Light said.  ...

EBHS Senior Bella Mashanski Wins $25K "Live Mas" Scholarship from Taco Bell

May 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Taco Bell Foundation awarded $3 million in Live Más Scholarships to 300 young people across the country, and one of them was Isabella Mashanski from East Brunswick, NJ. She received $25,000 (the highest amount awarded). Isabella was chosen out of the 8,000 students who applied. Of the 300 winners, she was one of only 16 who received the $25,000 ...


Toms River – Mary Stella Whiteman, 97, passed away peacefully Saturday May 19, 2018 in Rose ...
Read more
Piscataway – Reinhard Rudolf Kiefer, 85, died Sunday March 11, 2018 at home. Born in ...
Read more

Relay For Life Top Fundraiser Brianna Cagan – Event Set For June 2

May 20, 2018

When Brianna Cagan’s dad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, she and her family wanted to do something meaningful to fund cancer research. Brianna, her mom Sue Kelly, and their friends started a started a Relay For Life team called “Pearly Girls.” Seven years later, the high school freshman is the American Cancer Society’s top individual fundraiser for the Berkeley ...

ESCNJ Raises $12,000 at 6th Annual 'Autism Awareness' Fundraiser

For the 6th straight year, the Educational Services Commission of New Jersey's (ESCNJ) Annual Autism Awareness Swim & Play fundraiser on behalf of Autism New Jersey was a great success.

Total funds raised were approximately $12,000, as a result of pledges for laps completed, T-shirt sales, and families participating in arts and crafts activities.

The event received additional ...

Violent Campus Rapist Sentenced in New Brunswick

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - While walking across the Rutgers new Brunswick campus two years ago, a young woman was grabbed, viciously beaten, and raped by a middle-aged man from Newark.  She was saved by several students who intervened on her behalf.  Yesterday, her attacker was sentenced to 22 years in prison with no early release possibility.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey ...

Holy Savior Academy Presents ‘The Sound of Music,’ Eighth Graders Inducted into Thespian Society 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club performed 'Getting to Know: The Sound of Music' on May 3 and May 4. 

Holy Savior Academy's Drama Club just finished its fourth year and has performed six shows. The Drama Club is run under the direction of Susan Loughlin, Daneile Micale and Eva Tripodi. This year’s production, which featured a cast ...

Westfield Audience Cheers for NJ Festival Orchestra’s Season Finale

May 20, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ —  The New Jersey Festival Orchestra presented its season finale,  In London Town, at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield Saturday night. It was auspicious timing, as the royal wedding had taken place in England just that morning.

“We were so happy when Prince Harry and his bride picked our finale date,” Linda Doyle, executive director of the NJFO ...

A Royal Pain

I went to a big wedding over the weekend.  It was in England.

I like to think I was invited, but according to the Royal Guards and the Thames Valley Police I was not.  But more about that later.

You see, not too long ago I received an evite addressed to me from H&M@royalwedbot.co.uk.  Curiously, it was in my spam folder with a warning message. For an evite it was pretty ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...