NJ man found guilty of murdering witness who testified against him
Four years after being released from prison where he served time for a fatal stabbing, a Camden man was found guilty of murdering a witness who testified in the trial.
Richard Santiago, 63, was found guilty of first degree murder and third degree hindering prosecution in the December 2012 fatal stabbing of 54-year-old Ramona Johnstone of Woodbury, authorities said. Johnstone was a witness for the prosecution when Santiago stood trial for the 2004 stabbing death of Johnstone’s friend.
According to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, the jury deliberated for six hours. In addition to the murder and hindering charges, the jury also alleged that Santiago concealed or destroyed evidence. Authorities said no murder weapon was ever found, and he ended up being acquitted on charges of possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Laurie Cimino told jurors that Santiago's motive for killing Johnstone was revenge for his conviction in the 2004 death of 44-year-old Richard King. Jonhstone had been a witness when Santiago went to trial for King's death, authorities said. In presenting the case, authorities said, the prosecution presented phone calls Santiago made from prison as well as security videos from outside Johnstone's apartment building.
According to the Prosecutor's Office, King was found guilty in the Dec. 12, 2004 fatal stabbing of King outside Johnston'e apartment in Woodbury. In 2006, he was sentenced to nine years in state prison and was released on May 6, 2012. On Dec. 17 of that same year, authorities said, Johnstone was found in her apartment unconscious, with multiple stab wounds.
Santiago, who did not testify in the trial, has been in jail on $1 million bail since his arrest. The bail has been revoked and he is scheduled for sentencing June 24, authorities said.
Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.