Paul Kamienski is a single legal hurdle from remaining free after more than 20 years behind bars for two murders he didn’t commit. The ex-Bergen County businessman is now waiting to see whether the Ocean County prosecutor’s office appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court or throws in the towel. The deadline for that decision is coming soon.
A district judge last week issued a writ of habeas corpus vacating Kamienski’s murder convictions and ordering the State of New Jersey to expunge them from all its records.
This came after the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — in an unprecedented ruling — found no basis for the charges. Rejecting subsequent appeals by the prosecutor’s office, the panel ordered Kamienski freed.
The former playboy walked out of South Woods State Prison on June 16, a free man again after more than two decades, and the federal court closed the case.
Kamienski still remains tethered to a $1 million personal recognizance bond, although a judge allowed him to travel anywhere in the continental U.S., provided he check in with his probation officer once a week. All that’s left is a Sept. 30 deadline for the Ocean County prosecutor to officially decide what to do.
The appeals panel in May overturned the 1988 convictions, which resulted in double life sentences for Kamienski in the 1983 murders of a Florida couple in what prosecutors called a drug deal gone bad.
What rankled the appeals jurists was the lack of credible evidence that got the case to trial in the first place.
Kamienski had no trouble taking the fall for drug charges that he said were entirely warranted. He has spoken of personal demons that got to him after the death of his fiance in a boating accident — a crash that occurred while he’d been drinking.
After a decade of dogged efforts by his attorney, Timothy McInnis, the appeals judges agreed that the prosecutor in the case held back evidence and fabricated half-truths in securing Kamienski’s convictions and those of an accomplice in the drug-related Jersey Shore slayings of Barbara and Henry “Nick” DeTournay.
Kamienski was looking at another 19 years in prison before parole eligilbility. But McInnis, a former prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, took up the case — and eventually made history in the storied Third Circuit.
A detailed and highly informative Web site tracing Kamienski’s case has been updated to include all filed documents beginning with the 1988 trial transcript and ending with the July 31st case closed cover sheet. Audio of the oral arguments is also posted. The Web site, which went live moments after oral arguments before the Third Circuit in April, also includes photos of Kamienski and various media accounts of his story. A massive undertaking, it was developed by PRforLAW, LLC. Go to:
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