Legislators in the 24th district are calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty following an apparent quadruple homicide in Colts Neck.
Paul Caneiro was charged with the killings of his brother Keith, his sister-in-law Jennifer and the couple’s two daughters last month.
“The Colts Neck murderer deserves nothing less than the death penalty. We can no longer ignore the public calls for action in gruesome cases like these,” Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Franklin) said. “In 1992, New Jersey voters overwhelming enshrined the death penalty into the state constitution, However, Democrats overruled the will of the voters by banning the death penalty in 2007.
“Eliminating capital punishment has placed countless residents at risk. The horrible truth is that unless killers know the death penalty is on the table, there are monsters out there that will kill. In order to keep the public safe, we must reinstate the death penalty.”
The 1992 ballot question asked voters whether the imposition of the death penalty was cruel and unusual. They overwhelmingly voted it was not, but the measure was focused on blocking the death penalty from being abolished by judicial review.
The state abolished the death penalty via legislative means in 2007 under Gov. Jon Corzine.
Oroho is joined in his calls by Assemblymen Parker Space (R-Wantage) and Hal Wirths (R-Hamburg), who is a former member of the State Parole Board. Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said at a press conference last week that he would seek the death penalty in Paul Caneiro’s case if he was able to.
That stance puts Gramiccioni at odds with Gov. Phil Murphy, who opposes the death penalty.
It’s not clear where State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is on the issue. He declined to comment whether Gramiccioni’s comments were appropriate, saying he was not familiar with the Monmouth prosecutor’s comments regarding the death penalty.
“As lawmakers, our number one responsibility is to safeguard innocent people from harm,” Wirths said. “The gruesome murder of the Caneiro family is proof that we must reinstate the death penalty. We should listen to officials like Prosecutor Gramiccioni, who have plainly said that this is a punishment we should be able to hand down in extreme cases of violence. We owe it to the loved ones who are grieving this tremendous loss. They deserve the ultimate form of justice.”
Editor’s Note: After this story was published, Murphy’s team provided his position on the death penalty. He opposes it. The story has been updated to reflect this stance.