Trial in mid-1990s murders of relatives ends in hung jury

Illustration (Graham Media Group)

FREEHOLD, N.J. – A New Jersey judge declared a mistrial in light of a jury deadlock in the trial of a mother and son in the mid-1990s murders of two family members.

Jurors deliberated for almost a week but said Friday they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the charges against former Long Branch residents Dolores Morgan and her son Ted Connors, The Asbury Park Press reported.

Morgan, 69, and Connors, 49, were on trial in Monmouth County in the murders of Morgan's daughter and husband in Long Branch. Prosecutors allege that Morgan, then known as Dolores Connors, orchestrated both killings during meetings in the kitchen of the family home.

Ana Mejia, 25, was stabbed 22 times in her Long Branch apartment in December 1994 while her two children, ages 1 and 3, were present, authorities said. Nicholas Connors, 51, was shot three times in the head in May 1995 as he lay on the couch watching television in the family home.

A prosecution witness alleged in testimony that Morgan feared that Mejia, arrested in a state police cocaine sting, would provide evidence against her and her son. The murders remained unsolved until a cold case squad revived the investigation in 2017. The defendants, who now live in Delray Beach, Florida, were arrested in January 2020.

Assistant county prosecutor Noah Heck said the state will retry the pair. Defense attorneys Jason Seidman, representing Connors, and Jonathan Petty, representing Connors, are seeking release of their clients. The judge said he would schedule a hearing on their request as quickly as possible.

Seidman said the prosecution’s case was predicated “on the word of a snitch who got the deal of a lifetime.” Petty said his client had been incarcerated for 645 days and “has a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old that he’s watching grow up in pictures.’’