A New Jersey appellate court has upheld the felony murder conviction three years ago of Jeffrey Bayer, the son of a former Woodbury mayor, in a 25-year-old homicide case.
Bayer was convicted of the 1979 beating death of Rose Twells, the then-82-year-old widow of another former Woodbury mayor.
Bayer, 44, was a teenager at the time of the slaying. Prosecutors alleged that Twells was beaten to death during a robbery of her Woodbury home by Bayer and two others.
In upholding the conviction and 30-year prison sentence, the three-judge panel rejected arguments of trial-judge error and a prejudicial closing argument by the prosecution.
The panel also rejected an argument that the sentence was excessively long.
Bayer testified in his own defense during the trial in July 2005, admitting prior convictions for drug use and instances of stealing. In his appeal, Bayer, through his lawyer, argued that that information potentially prejudiced the jury against him.
But the appellate-court panel ruled that the defense did not object to the introduction of that evidence during the trial, pointing out that the defense itself brought out details about Bayers' prior parole violations.
The court also ruled that the defense did not object to First Assistant Prosecutor Steven Sands' closing argument at the time, but then raised that issue on appeal.
Bayer was one of three men charged in 2003 with what was then the oldest unsolved murder case in Woodbury history. One co-defendant, Clifford Jeffery, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Another, Mark English, was tried twice after Bayer's conviction. The first trial ended with a hung jury. English was acquitted in a second trial.