Lawmakers call for return of death penalty in aftermath of Colts Neck killings

SPARTA – The death penalty was banned in New Jersey in 2007, but in the aftermath of the Caneiro family murders in Colts Neck, three lawmakers are calling for its return.

“I only enforce the law,” said Christopher Gramiccioni, Monmouth County Prosecutor. “But if that was a possible sentence in the state of New Jersey, I would have certified this case as a capital case.”

“I want the public to know there is a bill out there for a crime this horrific,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths. “I dont know you get a more horrific crime than this to remind people that the death penalty should be reinstated.”

Wirths, who represents New Jerseys 24th district, has joined with two of his colleagues to renew their support for a bill that has been posted for years but has yet to be moved to a vote. The bill would not apply to Paul Caneiro, who has been charged with the murders of Keith, Jennifer, Jesse and Sophia Caneiro, but would allow the death penalty to be sought for similar, severe cases.

“This bill only calls for the death penalty in extreme cases like the killing of a law enforcement officer, the sexual assault or murder of a child, multiple murders in one case or a serial killer,” Wirths said.

Wirths says that he does not believe the legislation will gain any momentum while Governor Phil Murphy is in office.