Appeals Court Overturns Homicide Conviction

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PERTH AMBOY – Last week, a state appeals court overturned the conviction of a Perth Amboy man accused of beating his father to death with a baseball bat in the backyard of their Front Street home in 2004.

In 2006, a jury convicted Wendis Adames, now 25, of killing his father, 47-year-old Apolinar “Emelio” Adames on June 11, 2004. Adames was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but will now get a new trial in Superior Court in New Brunswick.

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The original trial hinged on competing expert testimony on Adames mental state. The three-judge panel ruled that a prosecutor’s remarks during the trial’s closing arguments were unfair to Adames.

“Have you seen him reacting to people that aren’t there? Reacting to voices that are up here in his head?” Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Martha McKinney asked the jury during her summation.

The appellate court determined that her suggestion was inappropriate.

“That Wendis did not have a flat affect or was not hearing voices at the time of the trial does not necessarily mean that those diagnostic criteria were not present at the time of the homicide or when he was examined,” the court wrote. “We are convinced that the prosecutor’s general comments on demeanor and introduction of the issue of Wendis’s conduct through her own factual assertions…possessed a clear capacity to mislead the jury, thereby precluding Wendis from his right to a fair trial.”


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