NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Convicted for the second time in the bludgeoning and strangulation death of his wife, a New Jersey man is headed back to state prison.
Carmelo Cruz of New Brunswick was sentenced Friday to 35 years for the 2002 death of 36-year-old Refugia Ruiz Olmedo.
A Middlesex County jury needed 40 minutes in September to convict Cruz on murder, weapons offenses and related charges. Angry that his wife planned to leave him, prosecutors say Cruz killed her and dumped the body in a wooded area of South Brunswick.
Cruz claimed Olmedo tried to strangle him in their apartment with an electrical cord but instead got tangled up in it. Cruz said he struck her head on the floor twice.
Cruz had won a retrial when an appellate court ruled in 2008 that the judge at his 2005 trial didn’t properly instruct jurors on the possibility that he acted in self-defense.
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