Pretrial conference postponed for Heather Barbera

The case of Heather Barbera, charged with murder in the death of her mother and grandmother, was postponed Monday while her attorneys and the Prosecutor’s Office continue negotiations for a plea agreement.

MAYS LANDING — The Ventnor woman charged last summer with the fatal beating of her mother and grandmother made a brief appearance in court Monday before another postponement was made for attorneys to continue to negotiate an agreement outside of a trial.

“It’s a very complex case with several moving pieces,” said James Leonard, one of Heather Barbera’s attorneys. “Both sides are working on an appropriate resolution.”

Barbera, 42, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that include two counts of first-degree murder, appeared Monday in Atlantic County Superior Court in front of Judge Bernard E. DeLury for only about 30 seconds, attorney Matthew Leonard said.

Prosecutors allege Barbera beat Elaine Rosen, 87, and Rosen’s daughter, Michelle Gordon, 67, to death before robbing them July 8, 2018, inside a condo at the Vassar Square Arms luxury condominiums in Ventnor.

Leonard said Thursday at another pretrial conference that he and Assistant Prosecutor Anne Crater needed 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 at the time.

Barbera was awarded excludable time, which effectively pauses the bail-reform clock, at least until Sept. 19, Leonard said.

A trial date is still set for October.

This new conference date is the latest in several postponements, which have caused the case to drag on 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.

This is at least the third time excludable time was used. Barbera was given 30 days excludable time Monday and a four-week postponement, counting as excludable time, in March.

Barbera is being held at the Atlantic County jail.

Contact: 609-272-7239 AAuble@pressofac.com Twitter @AublePressofAC

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