An Elizabeth man has been arrested and charged with 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.
It was shortly before 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 1 when the victim, George 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 it nearly struck Russo, after a brief exchange of words he got out of the vehicle and allegedly struck Russo 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 Wednesday, with state Superior Court Judge Frederic R. McDaniel setting bail at $200,000, cash only.
Second-degree crimes typically 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.