NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — A New Jersey man was acquitted in a retrial in the beating death of a Tennessee college student a decade ago.

Middlesex County jurors deliberated for five hours before acquitting Timothy Puskas of all charges Wednesday in the 2014 death of former Rutgers student William McCaw, 22, of Gallatin, Tennessee.

“I only wish my mother was still alive so I could be free from this injustice,” Puskas said in a statement Thursday. He offered his “heart and prayers” to the McCaw family, but said: “Contrary to what you have been led to believe, I did not assault or kill her beloved son.”

McCaw was walking home from a party before his body was found in deep snow in a New Brunswick backyard in February 2014. County prosecutors said he had been beaten to death with something resembling a crowbar or a Wrench. He attended Kean College, but previously attended Rutgers and returned frequently to the New Brunswick area.

Puskas was convicted in 2017 and sentenced to 40 years, but a state appeals court overturned the conviction in 2021, saying there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime and that surveillance videos showed no interaction between him and the victim. The appeals court also said prosecutors should not have been allowed to use as evidence a recorded conversation between the defendant and someone who died before trial.

Defense attorney Joseph Mazraani attempted to cast doubt on prosecutors’ theories about the murder and said other witnesses blamed his client to get more lenient sentences for themselves. He said Puskas “wants to put his life back together as best he can” and called the case “a devastating example of what happens when cooperators and informants are not closely scrutinized, when prosecutors are not held accountable and when law enforcement They don’t investigate.” properly.”

A Facebook post attributed to the victim’s father, Bob McCaw, at a memorial site said New Jersey law did not allow jurors to know some things about the defendant and the case. He expressed his gratitude to the prosecutors for their efforts and said that “the fight is always worth it and love always wins.”

By Sam