A New Jersey man is working to rebuild his life after spending nearly 10 years in prison for murder — before finally being acquitted of charges.

Timothy Puskas was arrested in March 2014, for the beating death of William McCaw, a 22-year-old Tennessee resident whose body was found in the backyard of a New Brunswick home on Hartwell Street.

A Middlesex County jury convicted Puskas in 2017 of murder, weapons charges and hindering his own apprehension, and Puskas spent the next seven years as an inmate.

But his attorney Joseph Mazraani persisted.

court appeal
(Getty/Think Stock)

In 2021, an appellate decision reversed Puskas’ murder conviction.

Puskas turned down a plea deal with prosecutors, before his second trial, that would have released him six months earlier on time served, if he pleaded guilty to the killing.

“Which of course I wasn’t going to do, because I’m not guilty,” Puskas said in an interview with New Jersey 101.5.

Timothy Puskas re-trial , day 1 in January(New Brunswick Today via Youtube)
Timothy Puskas re-trial , day 1 in January(New Brunswick Today via Youtube)

“The prosecution wanted me to admit to something that their key witness said in literally his ninth version of events — and he changed his own story, when he took the stand, for his 10th version.”

Puskas said he knew little of the law before his arrest — and has continued to read everything that he can, after his own harrowing experience with the dangerous shortcomings of what can be considered probable cause.

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Middlesex County child porn arrests (Middlesex County Prosecutor's office, Canva)
Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office (Google Maps)

Puskas: ‘They wanted to believe all the wrong people’

A weapon used in McCaw’s 2014 death was never recovered.

Puskas lived about a quarter of a mile away in a row house on Plum Street, with at least two tenants.

One of those tenants, who was facing a host of his own criminal charges, worked with the lead investigator on the case to record three phone conversations with Puskas, according to documents cited by the appellate decision.

The tenant then died before Puskas’ first trial, so cross-examination was never possible.

“For some reason, back in 2014, they wanted to believe all the wrong people — who ended up, every person they believed ended up changing their stories a hundred times. If it’s the truth, why does the story change,” Puskas said.

He also found it shocking that his own fate was decided for so long, based on the words of “so-called witnesses, who happen to be people trying to get out of their own convictions.”

After a second trial which began in January, Puskas was exonerated of those charges and became a free man, once again.

Timothy Puskas, eating one of his first meals after his acquittal (courtesy Timothy Puskas)
Timothy Puskas, eating one of his first meals after his acquittal (courtesy Timothy Puskas)

Reentering a highly digital, ‘touch-screen’ society

Puskas said in the weeks since his release, everything tastes amazing — starting with his first meal at Chili’s.

Puskas had a “brand-new iPhone 5” at the time of his arrest.

As he re-enters society as a free man, the latest model is an iPhone 15.

Puskas said he is working to adjust to the world now being “touch screen everything.”

His niece has set up a GoFundme campaign, to help support her uncle as he works to fill in some massive gaps on his resume and find work.

Puskas has also connected with several reentry organizations and groups — including Returning Citizens Support Group in Newark, and the NeighborCorps Re-Entry Service.

New Brunswick Today posted videos from the first week of the Puskas retrial on its YouTube channel, including the first day with opening statements.

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