NJ man sentenced to 18 years in death of mother when he was 17

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man who pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the death of his mother last year when he was 17 years old has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Eighteen-year-old Edgar Diaz apologized to his family and the community Friday in Superior Court in Ocean County, saying “I wish I could just wake up from this nightmare.”

Prosecutors said Diaz stabbed 44-year-old Margarita Diaz and slammed her head into the pavement outside her parked car. She died several days after she was found in an office complex parking lot in Toms River on Aug. 7. Her son was arrested several days later.

Diaz fought back tears as he read a letter in court describing a recent dream about his mother, saying he had apologized to her and asked for forgiveness. “That person that night was not me,” Diaz told the judge before sentencing. “It’s just not who I am.”

His father tearfully told the judge that his other son keeps asking when his big brother will be home.

“We’re just asking you to grant him a second chance at life,” the defendant's father said through an interpreter.

Prosecutors sought a 20-year sentence, saying the defendant acknowledged that he had “lost it" that day over a simple argument. Madeline Buczynski, assistant Ocean County prosecutor, said the court needed to focus the victim, and not a “dream version” of her. She said the victim was killed for “parenting her child.”

Defense attorney Bill Smith sought a 10-year sentence, calling his client a former ‘student of the month’ at Manchester Township High School.

Judge Wendel Daniels told Diaz “You still have a life. Your mother does not. It’s up to you to make the most of it."

Prosecutors said Diaz must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or more than 15 years.


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