I don't understanding this ruling. Has anyone heard about this case and able to offer more info. RU, aren't you from NJ? Any info?
Widow must repay $150K to an inmate
Court overturns award given in 1958 murder of Rahway cop
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
BY ROBIN GABY FISHER AND JUDY LUCAS
Elizabeth Bernoskie waited more than four decades to see an arrest in the 1958 murder of her husband, Rahway Police officer Charles Bernoskie.
Then, in a highly publicized trial six years ago, the suspect, a notorious killer named Robert Zarinsky, was found not guilty.
Convinced the jury was wrong, Bernoskie sued Zarinsky in civil court and won, and he was forced to pay her more than $150,000.
Yesterday, an appeals court ruled Bernoskie must give the money back.
Zarinsky can now move to seize Bernoskie's assets, including the modest home in Rahway where she lived with her husband and raised their six children.
"I don't know what I am going to do," a stunned Bernoskie said yesterday. "It is so horrible. I don't know where to turn, who to talk to. I have to digest it, but I don't want to digest it."
Bernoskie said she no longer has the money she was awarded, having divided it among her adult children, all of whom were under 8 years old when their father was shot to death.
"This is a horrible and diabolical and cruel decision," said Bernoskie's attorney Kenneth Javerbaum. "Everything is unraveled and undone. It is a cruel, torturous experience (Bernoskie) has had. It is probably giving (Zarinsky) enormous pleasure."
Javerbaum said Bernoskie will probably have to abide by the court's decision. "The only possible avenue is to go to the (state) Supreme Court, and I don't think they will hear the case."
Clifford Kuhn, Zarinsky's attorney, said the case ultimately came down to a simple legal question. "Sympathy is with Mrs. Bernoskie, but the law is the law," he said.
The three-judge panel in Trenton agreed with Zarinsky that he should not have been tried in civil court in the first place because he had previously been acquitted of Bernoskie's murder in criminal court.
The jury foreman in the 2001 criminal trial in Elizabeth said afterward that jury members believed Zarinsky killed the police officer, but felt they could not convict him because the prosecutor's case was weak.
Zarinsky has been in prison since 1975 for the murder of 17-year-old Rosemary Calandriello of Atlantic Highlands and is a suspect in a string of other murders of teenage girls in the 1960s and '70s. Police have said they believe he is a serial killer.
The Linden grocer was a married man living with his wife and parents when Calandriello disappeared Aug. 25, 1969, on her way to buy milk for her mother. She was never seen alive again.
Witnesses testified that on the day she went missing they saw her with a man matching Zarinsky's description, in a Ford convertible like the one Zarinsky drove. The case was the first time a New Jersey prosecutor won a murder conviction without having a body to prove the victim was actually dead.
At the time, authorities painted Zarinsky as a sociopath who trolled for teenage girls. He has been named a suspect in the unsolved murders of Linda Balabanow of Union in 1969 and Darlene Carlucci and Joanne Delardo in 1974. All of the girls were savagely beaten and strangled.
Zarinsky has always contended he is the victim of overzealous prosecutors, and that he never murdered anyone. For years, he denied knowing anything about the Calandriello disappearance, but eventually changed his story to say he accidentally ran over her.
He is currently appealing his conviction on the premise that there was no murder, just a terrible accident, but he has steadfastly refused to say what he did with Calandriello's body.
Zarinsky was implicated in Bernoskie's murder after his sister Judith Zarinsky Sapsa and her husband were caught stealing from Zarinsky's mutual fund in 1999. Sapsa told police that when she was 16 her brother and her cousin came home and said they had killed a police officer during a robbery.
The cousin, Theodore Schiffer, corroborated Sapsa's story, saying he was there when Zarinsky shot Bernoskie at a local car dealership. In exchange for his testimony, he was given a lenient three-year prison sentence, which he completed last year.
Zarinsky's criminal trial ended with an acquittal because the jury felt the state's key witnesses -- Sapsa and Schiffer -- may have lied to help their own cases.
Elizabeth Bernoskie followed up with a civil lawsuit and won $9.5 million in damages in 2003. Zarinsky was ordered to post his T. Rowe Price mutual fund as a payment toward the judgment. He has been fighting ever since to get the money back.
"He is going to be very happy," said Kuhn, who argued Zarinsky's case before the appeals court. "He is going to feel vindicated. He felt his rights were violated in having to go to civil trial."