ELIZABETH—Clifton Hall, who was awaiting trial on a 1985 Plainfield double homicide, died in jail late Friday evening, according to Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. Hall had been ill and was diagnosed with kidney failure prior to his death.
Hall was 52 years old and his trial was expected to begin in January 2010.
He was accused of killing 8-year-old Tyrone Urquhart and 7-year-old Tina Urquhart who was strangled and raped. Their bodies were found in the basement of a Plainfield rooming home in November 1985, said First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas, Jr.
Another man, Bryon Halsey, was put on trial for those murders and avoided the death penalty but was sentenced to life in prison. Halsey spent 22 years in jail before evidence was tested for DNA and showed a match to Hall. Halsey lived in the rooming house with the mother of the two children.
After the new evidence was presented, Halsey was freed from jail. All charges were dismissed.
Hall was charged with the murders while he was serving time in prison, having pled guilty to three sexual assaults in the 1990s. Hall was a neighbor in the rooming house and his DNA was on file from the earlier crimes, said Cernadas, who was preparing to handle the case against Hall in early 2010.
“Clifton cheated justice for Tina and Tyrone Urquhart by dying before trial,” said Cernadas. “He never spent a day in state’s prison for the atrocious murders he committed. He never had to pay for robbing 22 years from Byron Halsey – an innocent man who sat in jail for crimes he did not commit.”
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