A Union County grand jury has returned an indictment against an Elizabeth man accused of being responsible for the June death of an 82-year-old city resident, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park announced Wednesday.
Franceau Belizaire, 37, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of George Russo.
It was shortly before 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 1 when Russo was walking in the area of Grier Avenue and Routes 1&9 in Elizabeth, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Bruce Holmes, who is prosecuting the case. Belizaire was a passenger in a vehicle driving through the area at the time, and when the vehicle nearly struck Russo, it came to a stop and Belizaire got out, allegedly striking the victim in the head, Holmes said.
The assault knocked Russo to the ground, causing severe injuries. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he died approximately one week later.
An intensive investigation involving the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Homicide Task Force resulted in Belizaire being identified as a suspect. He was formally charged on July 30, and he remains lodged in Union County Jail on $200,000 bail.
Convictions on second-degree crimes can carry sentences of 5 to 10 years in state prison.
These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.