FREEHOLD – Omar Rivera-Rojas, 31, and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 19, both of Lakewood, were indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury for the 2019 murder of Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, also of Lakewood.
The victim had been found on Hurley Pond Road in Howell in the early morning hours of October 18, 2019. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rivera-Rojas, Rojas-Hernandez, and Merino-Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the night of October 17, 2019.
The men were returning to Lakewood early in the morning of October 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the two men killing Merino-Rafael.
Rivera-Rojas (also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas), and his nephew were indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Murder, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and Tampering with Evidence, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey stated.
Rojas-Hernandez, of Joe Parker Avenue in Lakewood is being held in the Youth Detention Center in North Brunswick where he has been in custody since his arrest in October 2019. Rojas-Hernandez, who was just seven months shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the murder, was previously waived to adult court to face the charges alongside his uncle and co-conspirator. Rivera-Rojas has also been detained since his arrest.
If convicted of Murder, Rivera-Rojas and Rojas-Hernandez each face a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey State Prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring them to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.