A state appeals court today upheld the 65-year state prison sentence imposed on a Vineland man for helping to kill a 52-year-old woman a decade ago.
The three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Superior Court rejected a series of arguments by Thomas Nevius, including a contention that his sentence should be reduced to match that of his co-defendant.
That co-defendant — William Boston — is serving a 55-year state prison stay for his part in the July 2002 killing of Ruth Walker.
When a Superior Court judge sentenced Boston to that term in August 2007, he said that Boston’s limited intelligence played a role in his decision. The appeals court found that the judge acted properly for that and other reasons, ruling that Nevius’ sentence was “neither excessive nor unjustifiably disparate when compared to that of Boston.”
“The circumstances are substantially dissimilar and (Nevius’) extensive and violent juvenile record, failure to successfully navigate probation and parole, and complete absence of mitigating factors as well as remorse, all differentiate him from (Boston) and more than amply support the aggravating factors upon which the sentence is grounded,” the court ruled.
Authorities said Nevius and Boston killed Walker in her Chestnut Square apartment in Vineland after she found them breaking into her home. Authorities said Boston, Walker’s next-door neighbor, stabbed the woman with her own kitchen knife while Nevius strangled her from behind.
Nevius, who represented himself in his trial, maintained his innocence throughout court proceedings. He shrugged off comments from Walker’s family on the day he was sentenced on charges of murder, felony murder, burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary.
“It saddens me that I have to go through this for something I didn’t do,” he told the court after listening to comments from Walker’s sister. “I didn’t do nothing. I just want to say, I’ll be back.”
The appeals court today also rejected arguments by Nevius that:
- The trial court improperly refused to admit some statements by Boston about a third accomplice.
- The prosecution improperly used hearsay evidence.
- Nevius was not allowed to be present at all stages of his trial.
- The trial judge never instructed the jury to consider the possibility of another accomplice.
- The appeals court further found that other allegations by Nevius are “without sufficient merit to warrant discussion.”
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