CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Alberto Martinez, charged with murdering a college student in Wildwood three years ago, formally waived his right Thursday to a jury trial.
After questioning by Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild about his decision, Martinez, 31, of Wildwood, said he did not want a jury to hear his case, meaning his murder trial, at which Wild alone will decide the outcome, can begin Monday morning.
Martinez is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2010 death of 19-year-old Vincent DeSario, a college student from Edison.
DeSario’s family members were in the courtroom Thursday afternoon as Martinez told Wild he was prepared for her to hear and decide the case in what is known as a bench trial.
DeSario, a student at Middlesex County College, had come to Cape May County in 2010 to take part in a golf tournament for community college students at the Cape May National Golf Club in Lower Township.
He was staying at the Bolero Resort in Wildwood and played May 10, the first day of the tournament.
First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson has said that DeSario and two of his friends were walking along Atlantic Avenue that night when one of them tripped and they started to laugh.
Martinez then allegedly asked them “are you laughing at me” before hitting DeSario in the head with a baseball bat. Johnson said the murder weapon was never located.
DeSario remained hospitalized for the next two weeks before dying May 24, 2010, at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City.
Johnson said DeSario’s father, John, is expected to be the first witness for the prosecution, and he will testify about those two weeks and his son’s death.
Thursday’s hearing was delayed briefly when defense attorney Stephen Patrick reported that his client did not want to come to court.
Patrick said his client told him, “The voices told me not to go.”
Martinez has been ruled competent to stand trial, but he is expected to seek a not guilty verdict by reason of mental disease or defect.
Patrick said his client also said he was not properly dressed and wanted to wear a suit to court.
Wild signed an order requiring him to come to the hearing, noting that a suit was not necessary for the day’s proceedings.
Also, Patrick said he did not object to the family’s request to wear badges with DeSario’s picture on them to court during the trial.
The trial will begin Monday, but because of scheduling issues it will not conclude until at least the week of June 11.
Martinez faces a life sentence if convicted.
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