The man accused of beating a 38-year-old medical technician, and three members of his family accused of helping him dispose of the woman’s body, all filed a plea of innocence on Wednesday.
The accused killer, Justin Fisher, and three family members — his father, Ali Gibson, his mother, Chloe Fisher, and his brother Ali Fisher — all appeared before Judge Justin Nicholas during the indictment proceedings in Passaic County Superior Court.
All four are charged in the death of Stephanie DeJesus, a medical technician at St Michael’s Hospital in Newark, whose smashed body was found inside the trunk of her car in her hometown of Paterson on February 25.
Justin Fisher, 30, faces the most serious charge – first-degree murder – along with desecration of human remains, tampering with evidence, obstruction, obstruction of arrest and possession of weapons. He faces life imprisonment if convicted of murder.
His family members have not been charged with the murder, but they also face lengthy prison sentences if they are found guilty of desecrating human remains, tampering with evidence, obstructing arrest and obstructing arrest.
Ali Fisher’s attorney, John McMahon, said he filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against his client. The judge will hear that motion on September 19.
The judge said the case is under speedy trial, which means the goal is to resolve the matter within a year. The next session will take place in late August.
The state alleges that DeJesus was beaten to death on February 23 by Justin Fisher, after the woman came to visit him in an apartment in Totowa where he lived with his fiancée Joel Martucci and their infant child.
Martucci later told the authorities that the couple were planning to move out with their relatives to save money for an apartment. But some of the cardboard boxes the couple were lying in packing their things were used to transport the woman’s body to the trunk of her car that night.
Martucci, initially accused of complicity in the murder, pleaded guilty earlier this year to desecrating human remains and placed on probation in exchange for testifying.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Barrera told the judge that the state had more than 100 video clips taken from surveillance cameras that allegedly showed Fisher and the family removing the body. The car she was in was found two days later on the corner of Ryerson Street and James Street in Paterson by a resident who saw blood dripping from the trunk of the car and called the police, according to an arrest affidavit.
Barrera told the court that the state had not yet offered a plea deal in the case, but that those discussions would continue with Justin Fisher’s attorney, Alyssa Hasscope.
“I will continue to discuss the case with Miss Hasscope, but at this time I will reserve the petition,” Parreira told the judge.
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Richard Quinn can be reached in [email protected].