Uncle, nephew indicted in New Jersey man’s 2019 death

New Jersey
howell township homicide

Authorities were at the scene after a man was found dead in a Howell Township, NJ roadway in Oct. 18, 2019 (Howell Township PD)

FREEHOLD, N.J. — Two men were indicted Tuesday for the 2019 death of a New Jersey man.

Omar Rivera-Rojas, also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas, 31, and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 19, were indicted on charges, including conspiracy to commit murder, murder, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linksey announced.

Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, was found lying on the roadway along Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547 on Oct. 18, 2019, authorities said.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The incident was initially investigated as a hit-and-run, however authorities quickly determined that was not the case.

The medical examiner determined his death was a homicide, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Investigation determined Merino-Rafael had been traveling with Rivera-Rojas, from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of Oct. 17, 2019. The men then got into an argument in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, resulting in the uncle-nephew duo killing Merino-Rafael, according to officials. 

Rojas-Hernandez, who was 17 at the time of the incident, has been held in a youth detention center since his 2019 arrest. He was previously waived to adult court to face the charges alongside his uncle. 

If convicted, both men face a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life. 

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