The prosecutor who tried Michelle Lodzinski for the murder of her five-year-old son, Timothy Wiltsey, is Gov. Phil Murphy’s pick to serve as a Superior Court Judge.
Murphy nominated Christie L. Bevacqua, 50, the former First Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor and head of the Special Victims Unit, to serve on the bench.
Lodzinski was arrested for killing her son in 2014, and a jury convicted her in 2016. She was serving a 30-year sentence when the New Jersey Supreme Court overturned the conviction in late 2021.
Murphy moved to fill three more judicial vacancies on Monday, notifying the State Senate of his intent to nominate Scott Arnette, Tariq Chaudhry, and Bevacqua to the Superior Court.
Arnette and Bevacqua are from Monmouth County.
A Democrat, Arnette, 59, is a former Sea Bright Council President, serving from 1987 to 1991 when he resigned to become borough attorney. Bevacqua is unaffiliated with any political party.
Chaudhri, a 39-year-old Republican from Vineland, is a partner at a South Jersey law firm. He is a member of the New Jersey South Asian Bar Association and the Asian & Pacific-American Lawyers Association of New Jersey. He serves on the board of the New Jersey Muslim Lawyers Association. Chaudhri also served on the board of the New Jersey Association for Justice.
Bevacqua claimed that a blanket about 30 feet from where Wiltsey’s remains were located represented a smoking gun.
“She dumped his body in a creek like a piece of trash, but she left behind a telling clue, this blanket,” Bevacqua told jurors. “No other killer could get this.”
In December 2021, less than two months after Murphy’s re-election, the state’s top court found that a jury did not have enough evidence to convict Lodzinski and acquitted her in a 4-3 decision. She was released from prison hours later.
Murphy also intends to nominate Thomas R. Smith of Hamilton as a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Court judge.
One week ago, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner suspended civil and matrimonial trials in six New Jersey counties — Cumberland, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Salem, Somerset, and Warren — because of the high number of judicial vacancies.
Murphy submitted notices of intent to nominate three new Superior Court Judges in Somerset County last week.