Grand jurors indict accused family killer

Photo courtesy Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office/ Carlos Campos


By Ron Leir

Carlos P. Campos, accused of committing a triple homicide in Harrison last summer, has been indicted by a Hudson County grand jury on three counts of murder.

The indictment, which also charges Campos with possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, was handed up to the Hudson County Superior Court on Jan. 24, following a presentation to the grand jurors on Jan. 10 by Asst. Hudson County Prosecutor Michael D’Andrea.

Campos is charged with the stabbing deaths of his parents, Carlos A. Campos-Trinidad, 57, and Ruth Pereira, 58, and his 3-year-old niece, Gabriella Morales, on Aug. 16, 2011, in their home at 216 Hamilton St., Harrison. Campos, who is being held on $1 million cash only bail at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 21 before Superior Court Judge Mary Costello in Jersey City. However, since Costello is soon to be transferred, from criminal to civil court, the county assignment judge may have to name another judge to hear the case.

D’Andrea will handle the case for the state while Campos will be represented by the county’s deputy public defender Joseph Russo.

If found guilty, Campos could be sentenced to three consecutive life sentences and would, technically, have to serve a bit more than 63 years on each murder count before being considered for parole, according to D’Andrea.

After his arrest soon after the crime, Campos was first taken to the Jersey City Medical Center for evaluation by a hospital psychiatrist but was subsequently transferred to the Ann Klein Forensic Center, a psychiatric facility run by the state Dept. of Health Services’ Div. of Mental Health Services to determine his mental fitness.

Last week Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said that state doctors have concluded that Campos “is competent to proceed (with trial) at this time.”

However, DeFazio said, they’ve offered no opinion as to “his mental state at the time of the crime.”

On the day of the crime, police said Campos, wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, walked into Harrison police headquarters at 12:18 p.m. and had a conversation with officers that prompted police to descend on the Hamilton St. home, just across the street from the Hamilton Intermediate School.

Inside, on the first floor of the 3-story residence, police found the bloodied, lifeless bodies of the three victims.

Campos-Trinidad, found in a bedroom, died from a stab wound to the back of the head/neck area, possibly inflicted from behind him; Pereira, discovered in a hallway linking two bedrooms, was killed by a single stab wound to the neck/chest area but also had many “defensive wounds,” an autopsy showed.

The baby, found lying in its crib, died from numerous sharp force stab wounds to the neck and upper chest, according to the autopsy.

A knife, believed to be the murder weapon, was recovered at the scene, authorities said.

The baby’s mother, who works for a nonprofit agency that combats substance abuse and who runs the Roselle Family Success Center, a United Way-sponsored program, was in Haiti on a charity mission at the time of the crime. She returned to attend a private funeral for the victims.

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