In a stunning move, New Jersey’s state Supreme Court just freed a woman who was convicted of killing her five-year-old son, due to a lack of evidence.
According to NJ.com, Michelle Lodzinski left the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women on Tuesday after having her 30-year prison sentence overturned.
Lack of evidence
It noted that Lodzinski had been arrested in 2014 in connection with the 1991 death of her son Timmy. At the time, Lodzinski claimed that the boy had gone missing from a carnival; his body was later discovered.
While Lodzinski was found guilty of murdering Timmy following a 2017 trial, New Jersey’s high court ruled this week that the verdict was not supported by the evidence.
“After reviewing the entirety of the evidence and after giving the state the benefit of all its favorable testimony and all the favorable inferences drawn from that testimony, no reasonable jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Lodzinski purposefully or knowingly caused Timothy’s death,” state Justice Barry Albin said in the opinion for the majority.
He added that “even if the evidence suggested that Timothy did not die by accident, no testimony or evidence was offered to distinguish whether Timothy died by the negligent, reckless, or purposeful or knowing acts of a person, even if that person were Lodzinski.”
Not all agree
That conclusion was not shared by all of the court’s members, however, with three of them responding to the ruling with a scathing dissent.
“In our view, today’s decision undermines the core principle of appellate deference to a jury verdict in a criminal trial and undermines the jury’s role at the heart of our criminal justice system,” they wrote.
The dissenters went on to characterize the majority’s decision as a “disservice to our jury system and a grave injustice to the victim, five-year-old Timothy Wiltsey.” They added, “We consider the defendant’s acquittal to be unwarranted and unjust.”
Back to the family
For her part, Lodzinski expressed gratitude to her supporters as she was released from the correctional facility late on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m grateful for all the people who helped me and stood by my side to get me home to my family and friends,” Lodzinski told a group of journalists.
She then voiced a desire to return to her home in Florida, saying, “I want to go home and just see my kids.”