CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Alberto Martinez graphically described the injury Vincent DeSario suffered when he was hit on the head with a baseball bat.
“When I seen it hit his head, his head was like flat on this side,” Martinez told Wildwood detectives in a videotaped statement made hours after the May 10, 2010, assault.
The statement, which runs for about 30 minutes, was played Wednesday morning during Martinez’s murder trial.
“Kind of caved his head in?” Detective Chris Korobellis asked.
“Yep, completely caved it in,” Martinez replied.
But while Martinez admits to swinging the bat at DeSario, to owning the bat, to throwing away the bat, and to talking to DeSario and his friends that day, he suggested someone else was responsible.
“I approached him, but somebody hit him before I hit him,” Martinez told Korobellis and Detective Ken Gallagher.
“The person that hit him was like a mirror image,” Martinez continued.
Martinez, 31, of Wildwood, is seeking a not-guilty verdict by reason of mental disease or defect. Defense attorney Stephen Patrick said he expects to call psychiatrist Carla Rodgers to testify that his client was insane at the time DeSario was struck down.
The 19-year-old college student from Edison, Middlesex County, was visiting Wildwood to take part in a collegiate golf tournament. He was struck on the head and never regained consciousness before dying May 24, 2010.
DeSario’s parents and other family and friends listened and watched as the interview with Martinez was played for Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild.
“I got off my bike, and I said, ‘What are you laughing (at)? Are you laughing at me,” Martinez told the detectives.
Witnesses Michael Maglione and Colton Finney, friends of DeSario, testified this week that a stranger on a bicycle stopped and asked whether they were laughing at him as they made their way to the Wildwood Boardwalk.
The man then got off his bicycle, grabbed the bat and swung it at DeSario, striking him once in the head. They say the man then rode away north on Atlantic Avenue.
Maglione testified that the laughter erupted after he tripped on the sidewalk at Oak and Atlantic avenues next to the Wildwood Post Office and had nothing to do with Martinez.
“I didn’t know what perspective or what they were laughing at me for, but I didn’t like it,” Martinez said as the statement continued.
As for the mirror image, he said, “the second I went to swing, it just came to life.”
He continued, “There was a whole bunch of blocks, whatever, bam. Just a solid, solid hit.”
“As I swung the bat, I nipped his nose, really I went towards his leg,” Martinez added.
During the interview, Martinez told the detectives he had found the bat and at one point said he used it when he went fishing.
“Sometimes fishing, you hit the fish on the head. You know, just like a shark,” he explained, not for small fish.
“Was it your bat?” Korobellis asked.
“Yeah, it was my bat,” Martinez replied.
“What happened to the bat?” Korobellis asked.
“I took it and tossed it in the trash,” Martinez replied. “I just tossed it and just kept on going.”
Police searched for the bat at the Wawa where Martinez said he left it and at other locations. The weapon, however, was never recovered.
After the video finished Wednesday, First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson questioned Korobellis.
“He acknowledged being there?” Johnson asked.
“Yes,” Korobellis replied.
“Did he acknowledge swinging the bat at the victim?” Johnson continued.
“Yes,” Korobellis said.
Patrick noted during the interview Martinez also talked about fishing and said something about people whispering around him.
“Did it make sense to you?” Patrick asked.
“No, but he’s trying to get away from the topic obviously,” Korobellis said.
Martinez, who has been described as either homeless or transient by witnesses, police and attorneys, gave an address to police at the time of his arrest, saying he lived on Rio Grande Avenue in Wildwood.
He is charged with first-degree murder and faces a life sentence. Wild will decide the outcome of the case because Martinez opted to have a bench trial, meaning no jury is present.
The defense will present its case starting June 11, when the psychiatrist is available to testify.
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