Ex-con murdered woman on former U.S. senator’s NJ estate
FLEMINGTON — A career criminal could be back behind bars permanently after a Hunterdon County jury last week convicted him of murdering a woman at a drug-fueled party in 2020.
Brandon E. Petersen, 33, of Newton, faces at least 30 years to life when he is sentenced in July.
After a three-week trial, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, fourth-degree unlawful taking of a vehicle.
Petersen fatally stabbed 38-year-old Michele Carkhuff in her neck while they were preparing food in the kitchen, a witness told police.
Friends rushed Carkhuff to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Before police could arrive, Petersen drove off the sprawling 12-acre Delaware Township property owned by former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, who was living in Florida at the time.
Police found Petersen the next morning, with blood on his clothes, after his girlfriend alerted police. She said Petersen had called her to go pick him up in Pennsylvania, investigators said.
Lifetime of crime and violence
Petersen has already spent most of his life behind bars.
When he was 15, he tried to rob a neighbor to pay off a drug debt. In doing so, he nearly killed the victim by breaking off a knife in the woman's head, causing so much blood loss that it short-circuited her phone while she called 911.
Petersen copped a plea deal that spared him from an attempted murder charge, instead getting a 13-year sentence for first-degree robbery and aggravated assault.
Incarceration did little to rehabilitate him.
He was arrested in 2016 on a cocaine possession charge, just months after leaving prison. After completing another year in prison, he was arrested again four months later.
He was last released from prison in August 2019.
When he is sentenced by Superior Court Judge Angela F. Borkowski in July, his murder conviction will carry a 30-year period of parole ineligibility.