NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On January 29, a jury found New Brunswick resident Royjabar Nail not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of 24-year-old Joshua Negron, but only after a witness recanted her statement that identified Nail as the killer.
Nail was accused of shooting Negron at the scene of a streetside vigil for Junio Moronto at the corner of Hale Street and Remsen Avenue. Moronto had been stabbed to death at the same location two nights earlier.
According to a report by NJ.com’s Brian Amaral, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet said that “Nail walked up to the memorial where the victim was showing respect, grabbed Mr. Negron and shot him in the chest.”
Sidnaida Cruz, a witness who had also been attending the vigil had originally said that Nail was the killer, stating, “It had to be him. That’s the only person who looks like him,” according to the report.
Unbeknownst to Cruz, that statement was recorded by a video camera in a New Brunswick police vehicle, according to the reprot.
Cruz completely recanted her original statement under cross-examination from Nail’s defense attorney and stated that she was “100% sure” that the shooter was not Nail.
Nail’s attorney, Joseph Mazraani, suggested that Cruz was later physically cornered in the police interview room and pressured to identify Nail, according to the report.
Although Nail was found not guilty in the shooting death of Negron, the same jury found him guilty of evidence tampering. However, Nail already served more than enough time, about 26 months, for the fourth-degree charge.
Nail is scheduled to be in court again in March, this time for a second-degree weapons charge.
Authorities found a shotgun while executing a search warrant after Nail was identified as a suspect in the killing, according to NJ.com.
The weapon was not used in the killing of Negron, but Nail was charged because he was not allowed to have a weapon due to a previous conviction.