FREEHOLD: A Long Branch man pleaded guilty to a lone count of first degree Aggravated Manslaughter admitting his role in the 2013 death of an El Salvadorian man found dead in the basement of a Willow Avenue residence, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Victor Garzon-Alvarez, 30, a Mexican national living in Long Branch, pleaded guilty Friday before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, P.J.Cr. admitting he stabbed 39-year-old Manuel Vilaseca-Cortez, of Long Branch, the father of five children. Vilaseca-Cortez was found dead on Jan. 3, 2013, in the basement of a Willow Avenue home where he was living. Garzon-Alvarez is scheduled for sentencing on April 2, 2015 before Judge Vernoia.
The lifeless body of Vilaseca-Cortez was found after Long Branch police received a 911 call around 4:20 p.m. reporting the discovery of an unresponsive male. Law enforcement officers found the deceased victim, covered by a blanket, on top of two rolls of carpet padding that served as a bed for defendant Victor Garzon-Alvarez. Garzon-Alvarez, who shared the basement dwelling with another man, had not been seen by any of the residents of the premises for several days prior to the finding.
An autopsy revealed Vilaseca-Cortez sustained numerous injuries: two stab wounds to the chest, two stab wounds to the left side of the abdomen, one stab wound to the neck, one stab wound to the left elbow, and blunt force trauma to the left hand. The cause of death was determined to be one of the stab wounds to the chest.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Long Branch Police Department, and U.S. Marshal's Office led to the arrest of Garzon-Alvarez on Jan. 16, 2013. The investigation ultimately revealed Garzon-Alvarez and the victim were acquaintances who spent the early morning hours of New Year's Day in the basement dwelling. An altercation ensued resulting in Garzon-Alvarez stabbing the victim to death. Garzon-Alvarez, who was not wounded during the incident, placed the victim on his sleeping area before fleeing the residence.
As part of his plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend Garzon-Alvarez be sentenced to 15 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the "No Early Release Act" (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison. The plea agreement was made in consultation and with agreement from the victim's family.
The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Stacy Handler and Julia Alonso. The defendant is represented by Raymond Santiago, Esq., of Freehold.