CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — William Patrick Tozer, already in prison for one 1980s murder in Cape May County, was charged Tuesday in the 1985 killing of a South Dennis resident who had testified against him in a previous trial.
Tozer, who turned 53 on Tuesday, is already serving a life sentence in state prison for the June 1988 murder of the Rev. Leon Blackman, 75, at a South Seaville camp meeting. He was convicted of Blackman’s murder in 1995 and sentenced in 1996.
During a brief court appearance Tuesday afternoon, First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson told Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild that witness testimony and a confession Tozer reportedly made to a third person led to the new murder charge involving the killing of Carl Frederick Robinson.
Johnson said Tozer had been convicted of another crime in the 1980s and Robinson testified in that case. It was unclear Tuesday what the charges were in that trial.
Within a month of Tozer's release from prison, Robinson was dead, Johnson said.
Robinson, who was 57 at the time of his Dec. 9, 1985, death was living in a home on Dennisville Road in South Dennis.
Witnesses told investigators that Tozer and two other people drove to Robinson's home. Tozer then “spends about 15 to 20 minutes outside the motor vehicle in the area of the victim’s home,” Johnson said.
"Ultimately, he returns back to that vehicle with his hands bloodied. Two witnesses from that vehicle essentially corroborate that story," Johnson said.
Johnson said Robinson was beaten, dragged near a heater and the house set on fire.
Defense attorney Scott Sherwood entered a not guilty plea on Tozer's behalf Tuesday. Tozer who has a thick beard and wears glasses, spoke briefly, telling Wild he understood the proceeding.
He has previous convictions for murder, forgery, vehicle theft, sex assault, burglary and resisting arrest.
Tozer will not be eligible for parole on his first murder conviction for another 14 years. He initially pleaded guilty to the crime in 1990 and was sentenced to life in prison. But an appellate court in 1993 found errors in the plea agreement, paving the way for his conviction in 1995.
Wild set bail for him at $1 million on the new murder charge, the maximum amount allowed.
After the hearing, Johnson said the new murder charge was the result of a cold-case review by his office.
He said all of the witnesses cited during Tuesday’s hearing are still available to testify.
Tozer faces another life sentence if convicted of Robinson's murder.
Blackman was beaten and strangled to death inside his cottage, which was across the street from Tozer's home.
After the murder, Tozer then stabbed another minister, the Rev. Lawrence Moore, who survived the attack.
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