MAYS LANDING — The Ventnor woman charged last summer with the fatal beating of her mother and grandmother had her pretrial conference postponed to Monday as attorneys continue to formulate a new plea.
Heather Barbera, 42, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that include two counts of first-degree murder, appeared Thursday in Atlantic County Superior Court in front of Judge Bernard E. DeLury.
Prosecutors allege Barbera beat Elaine Rosen, 87, and her daughter, Michelle Gordon, 67, to death before robbing them July 8, 2018, inside a condo at the Vassar Square Arms luxury condominiums in Ventnor.
Barbera’s attorney, James Leonard, said Thursday he and Assistant Prosecutor Anne Crater need more time to flesh out what he said will ultimately be a “counter plea on the behalf of the defendant.”
“We are working diligently to resolve this matter without a trial,” Leonard said.
The pretrial conference was rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.
As of Thursday, DeLury still has a trial date set for Barbera for Oct. 8.
This new conference date is the latest in several postponements, which have caused the case to continue for more than a year after Rosen and Gordon were killed.
Barbera’s case falls under the the Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act, which sets guidelines for how long a defendant can be detained before trial.
Under the act, the state has 90 days to indict a defendant after they are detained, and an additional 180 days to bring the case to trial.
Barbera was arrested July 11, 2018, by police at the Midtown Manhattan Port Authority after fleeing to New York City and was held in the Rose M. Singer women’s facility on Rikers Island.
However, the countdown that bail reform provides started officially when Barbera consented to pretrial detention Aug. 9 during a hearing in Atlantic County Superior Court, after she was extradited from New York.
She was indicted by a grand jury Oct. 17, well within the 90-day deadline.
But Barbera has been held in jail for more than 10 months since her indictment, well over the 180-day deadline.
At her appearance Thursday, DeLury also awarded another 30 days of excludable time, which effectively pauses the bail-reform clock.
This time has been used in the case previously when another attorney representing Barbera, Matthew Leonard, was granted a four-week postponement, counting as excludable time, in March.
Barbera is being held at the Atlantic County jail.
Conviction of a first-degree crime carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
Staff Writer Molly Bilinski contributed to this report.