Testimony casts doubt on defense claim in 1991 murder case
A retired Arizona detective cast some doubt Friday on a defense theory in the case of a woman charged with killing her young son in New Jersey 25 years ago.
Thomas Van Meter testified in an evidence hearing in the case of Michelle Lodzinski, a former Florida resident charged in 2014 with killing 5-year-old Timothy Wiltsey in 1991.
Jury selection for Lodzinski's murder trial is scheduled to begin in mid-February, and state Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves must decide before then whether to allow jurors to hear from Van Meter and Tucson, Arizona, resident Damien Dowdle, who testified last week.
Dowdle, an ex-convict who was released from prison last year after serving roughly 18 years for bank robbery, testified a former cellmate and friend told him in late 1991 that he had strangled a young boy in New Jersey around the time Timothy was killed.
Dowdle said he told authorities in Arizona about it at the time but didn't revisit it until he did an online search -- something he couldn't do in 1991 -- when he got out of prison.
He testified he originally thought the friend had committed the crime near "Atlanta City" but later took it to mean Atlantic City. He said he told Van Meter.
NJ.com reported Van Meter testified Friday that Dowdle never mentioned New Jersey but said the friend had killed a boy in Georgia. He said the first time he heard the boy was killed in New Jersey was when he was contacted by investigators after Dowdle contacted Lodzinski's attorney.
Lodzinski has said Timothy was kidnapped from a carnival in Sayreville, about 90 miles north of Atlantic City, in May 1991, though she offered conflicting versions to authorities. The former Port St. Lucie resident was arrested in 2014 in Florida, where she had been working as a paralegal, and is being held in New Jersey on $2 million bail.
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