Conceding an application for post-conviction relief based on a claim of ineffective assistance of defense counsel at trial and acknowledging that the case would be impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt during a retrial, the Prosecutor’s Office moved today to dismiss all charges in the matter of State v. Dorval, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan announced Monday.
Jean Dorval, 45, was ordered freed by state Superior Court Judge John M. Deitch after a brief hearing involving Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr.
Dorval and a co-defendant, 46-year-old Duquene Pierre, both Elizabeth residents, were arrested and charged with murder shortly after the March 20, 1994 shooting death of 19-year-old Jerry Myers near the area of Magnolia Avenue and Catherine Street in Elizabeth, Cernadas explained.
At trial, two witnesses placed Dorval and Pierre at the scene of the shooting, and the pair were convicted and sentenced in May 1996 to lengthy state prison terms.
But following a series of appeals filed by both defendants, the New Jersey Supreme Court in December 2015 ultimately ruled that Pierre was denied effective assistance of defense counsel during the trial, vacating his convictions. The ruling was made specifically because it was determined that Pierre’s attorney had failed to present testimony by his relatives backing up his claim that he received a traffic ticket in South Carolina – with Dorval in his passenger’s seat – several hours before the homicide took place more than 700 miles away in Elizabeth.
After both key witnesses recanted their identifications, Pierre was acquitted of all charges during a retrial that concluded in July 2016. Cernadas noted in court Monday that the same set of circumstances applied to Dorval, adding that due to the long passage of time and the unavailability of other witnesses, the case against him couldn’t be proven.
Dorval previously would not have been eligible for parole until April 2034, according to New Jersey Department of Corrections records.