Harrison man pleads guilty to 2007 murder in Jersey City: Suarez

A Harrison man suspected in a 2007 Jersey City murder has pled guilty and he now faces nearly two decades behind bars, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said.

On Feb. 10, 2022, Joel Esquijarrosa, 44, of Harrison, pled guilty to the Aug. 24, 2007, murder of Rafael Angel Aguero Espinoza in Jersey City.

Esquijarrosa pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

The state will recommend a sentence of 18 years in New Jersey State Prison, subject to the No Early Release Act.

Sentencing is scheduled before the Judge Vincent J. Militello on Friday, April 8, 2022.

On Aug. 24, 2007, Rafael Angel Aguero Espinoza, 50, was found dead inside the cabin of his tractor trailer, which was parked on Senate Place and Van Winkle Avenue in Jersey City. The cause of death was later determined to be multiple stab wounds and the manner of death to be homicide.

The investigation revealed the homicide was committed during the commission of a robbery.

On Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted by the Harrison Police Department after Esquijarrosa was arrested there on criminal-mischief charges. Based on an investigation conducted by the HCPO’s Cold Case Unit, Esquijarrosa was charged with the 2007 murder.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.