COLTS NECK — The trial of a Monmouth County man accused of wiping out his brother and his family and setting their home ablaze may not start until 2020 because of legal motions that could "stop the speedy trial clock," the prosecutor said Tuesday.

Paul Caneiro was charged with four counts of first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the deaths of Caneiro's 51-year-old brother Keith, his 45-year-old sister-in-law Jennifer, 8-year-old niece Sophia and 11-year-old nephew Jesse, who were found at the family's torched mansion in Colts Neck two days before Thanksgiving.  He is currently being held at the Monmouth County Jail and maintains his innocence.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea that in a "perfect world" a defendant would be indicted by a grand jury within 90 days of their arrest and brought to trial within 270 days.

Colts Neck home of Keith Caneiro following a fire and homicide
Colts Neck home of Keith Caneiro following a fire and homicide (Adam Hochron, Townsquare Media NJ)

"When you involve things like legal motions that get filed, all those things stop the speedy trial clock. I've been advising that I don't see this case going to trial until early to mid 2020. It's just going to take that time. Unfortunately, the wheels of justice do grind slow and there's a lot of volume, especially in Monmouth County," Gramiccioni said.

He added that the defense can also slow down the process by asking for adjournments and extra time to prepare experts they may use during a trial.

State law requires that discussion of a plea deal be part of the case.

"Whether a plea gets made or not depends on whether there's a meeting of the minds between the state and the defendants," Gramiccioni said.

The prosecutor, who called the case the most horrific of his career, said the state will keep him behind bars pending trial. He said based on the charges it would be difficult for Caneiro to convince a judge to release him.

Gramiccioni had praise for team that worked on the case, calling it their "finest hour."

"I'm really proud of the overall state, municipal county team that worked on this. It was an outstanding effort," he said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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