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Wood-Ridge Man Found Guilty in Retrial for Killing of East Rutherford Realtor

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Wood-Ridge NJ, Daniel Rochat, a resident of Wood-Ridge, faced a jury trial once again for his involvement in the tragic beating death of East Rutherford real estate agent Barbara Vernieri in 2012. On Wednesday, the jury delivered a verdict, once more finding Rochat guilty of the heinous crime.

The retrial, which commenced last month, delved into the brutal killing of Vernieri, with Rochat accused of not only beating her but also setting her on fire in an attempt to conceal the crime. This conviction follows an overturning of Rochat’s previous conviction in 2022.

After several weeks of courtroom proceedings, the jury deliberated and ultimately found Rochat guilty on multiple charges, including murder, arson, felony murder, desecration, hindering, and false swearing.

In response to the verdict, Anthony Pope, Rochat’s attorney, expressed disappointment while affirming their intention to assess the outcome and determine the appropriate course of action. “I believe we had raised a reasonable doubt as it relates to the guilt of Daniel Rochat,” Pope stated in a phone interview, acknowledging the dedication of his legal team in presenting the case.

During the trial, the prosecution posited a motive, suggesting that Rochat murdered Vernieri due to financial pressures stemming from an $11,000 debt owed to his ex-girlfriend, coupled with the termination of their relationship. Assistant Prosecutor David Malfitano highlighted the disturbance in Vernieri’s home and the apparent rifling through her belongings as evidence supporting their case.

In his defense, Pope contested the prosecution’s claims, emphasizing the absence of direct evidence linking Rochat to the crime scene. He underscored Rochat’s lack of physical injuries and challenged the credibility of technological evidence, questioning the reliability of phone location data.

Testimony from Rochat’s ex-girlfriend, Christina Salito, shed light on their tumultuous relationship and financial transactions preceding Vernieri’s death. Salito recounted loaning Rochat money and their subsequent breakups, including one just days before Vernieri’s murder.

As Rochat awaits sentencing scheduled for June 14, the case serves as a sobering reminder of the enduring pursuit of justice for victims and the solemn responsibility of the legal system in addressing acts of violence within our communities.

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One thought on “Wood-Ridge Man Found Guilty in Retrial for Killing of East Rutherford Realtor

  1. Anything south of Route 4 is in the Forbidden Zone…

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