Belleville man found guilty — again — for murdering wheelchair-bound friend in 2014: ECPO

Andujar ECPO

A Belleville man who stood accused of stabbing his roommate to death nearly a decade ago has been convicted — for the second time — of murder by a jury of his peers in Essex County, Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II said.

Edwin Andujar, of Belleville, fatally stabbed Thomas Parent, 59, of Belleville, on Aug. 7, 2014.

That day, Belleville police responded to 26 Wallace St. and found Parent sitting in a wheelchair suffering from multiple stab wounds to his abdomen and back, and a laceration to his arm consistent with a defensive wound. Prior to police arrival, the suspect was observed by a witness standing over Parent holding a bloody knife.

That witness then called 911.

When police arrived, they said Andujar told an officer, “I stabbed him, I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Andujar was then placed under arrest. During the arrest, an officer observed a bloody serrated steak knife under the victim’s wheelchair.

On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, following a (second) multi-week trial before Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin, the jury found Andujar guilty of three counts: murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

“This defendant brutally stabbed Thomas Parent approximately a dozen times in the stomach and twice in the back as he sat defenseless in his wheelchair. It was an unthinkable, cowardly, intentional act. The defendant’s 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 of the victim are very grateful that the jury came to the same conclusion,’’ Assistant Prosecutor Michele Miller said.

Another assistant prosecutor, Monica Calderon, tried the case with Miller.

“We would like to thank the jury for their hard work and their just verdict,” Calderon said. “This was not a case of self-defense, but a deliberate attack on a vulnerable victim. We hope this verdict brings Thomas Parent’s family some degree of closure.”

Andujar faces life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 5, 2024.

Now, this is the second time Andujar has been found guilty of this crime.

Essex County Prosecutor’s Spokesman Robert Florida said this case was retired after an appeal.

In 2017, Andujar was convicted in Superior Court, Essex County, of all three charges, but the verdict in his case was overturned when an appellate court determined, in a 2021 decision, there was “implicit bias” in the voir-dire portion (jury screening and selection) of the original trial.

The appellate decision noted, at the time, the aforementioned “implicit bias” was in play when the state had dismissed a Black juror based on his past.

Learn more about the writer ...

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.