Guilty verdict in ’14 Belleville murder

NEWARK

A 53-year-old Belleville man has been convicted of first-degree murder in the August 2014 stabbing death of his roommate in their township apartment. Obviously, the jury did not buy Edwin Andujar’s claim that he had acted in self-defense when he thrust a steak knife — a dozen times into his victim, who happened to be confined to a wheelchair.

Jurors returned their verdict Tuesday, June 27, following a trial before Judge Michael L. Ravin in Superior Court, Newark, also finding the defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino reported.

Andujar faces a term of 30 years to life in State Prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 17.

According to authorities, Andujar was unemployed and living rent-free in the apartment he shared with his victim, Thomas Parent, 59, at 26 Wallace St., Belleville. On Aug. 7, 2014, when Parent told him he had to move, Andujar became enraged, grabbed a knife and repeatedly stabbed Parent in the stomach, groin and back.

At the time, Parent had just come home from a rehabilitation center and still needed a wheelchair.

Initially, Andujar was charged with attempted murder. On Aug. 12, 2014, the charges were upgraded to murder after Parent succumbed to his injuries. 

This defendant brutally stabbed the victim 12 times as he sat defenseless in his wheelchair. It was an unthinkable, cowardly, intentional act, said Assistant Prosecutor Michele Miller, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Meredith Mona.

Mona noted, “His claim of self-defense didn’t stand up against the facts, the evidence and even his own statements made at the time of the murder. We and the family are grateful the jury came to the same conclusion.’’

Andujar is currently being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.  

Authorities said he has one prior conviction, for endangering the welfare of a child.                                      

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent