Court blocks release of mother and son charged with New Jersey murders
A court of appeals has ordered that a mother and son accused of the decades-old murders of two relatives in New Jersey remain behind bars to allow prosecutors to appeal a judge’s order granting their release awaiting a new trial.
Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley ordered the release of Dolores Morgan, 69, and Ted Connors, 49, from Monmouth County Jail, but an appeals judge stayed the order Friday after- noon on Asbury Park Press reported.
Their first trial ended in an overturned after jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict after a week of deliberations on the murders of Morgan’s daughter and husband in Long Branch. Prosecutors allege Morgan, then known as Dolores Connors, orchestrated the two murders during meetings in the kitchen of the family home.
Ana Mejia, 25, was stabbed 22 times in her Long Branch apartment in December 1994 while her two children, aged 1 and 3, were present, authorities said. Nicholas Connors, 51, was shot three times in the head in May 1995 while lying on the sofa watching television in the family home.
A prosecution witness alleged in her testimony that Morgan was concerned that Mejia, arrested in a cocaine injection by state police, would provide evidence against her and her son. The murders remained unsolved until an unsolved cases squad relaunched the investigation in 2017. The defendants, who now live in Delray Beach, Florida, were arrested in January 2020.
Defense attorneys Jason Seidman, representing Connors, said the prosecution case was “on the word of a snitch who got the case of his life.”
âShe’s waited a long time to kiss her husband and son, breathe fresh air, eat real food and get a night’s sleep without 10 people screaming,â Seidman said.
Lawyer Jonathan Petty, representing Connors, said his client had been jailed for 645 days and “has a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old that he watches growing up in pictures.” After the judge ordered her release, Petty said, ââ He said, âThe next time I see my daughter, you won’t show me a picture. “
“It is the state’s position that they murdered two people,” Monmouth County Assistant District Attorney Meghan Doyle said. âIt’s our obligation to keep people safe, and that’s exactly what we do. ”