Appellate court upholds NJ man's murder conviction

September 3, 2012 9:57:17 AM PDT
A state appellate court has upheld the convictions of a northern New Jersey man who helped his older brother murder and dismember their teenage neighbor.

But the panel also ruled that James Zarate - who was 14 when the slaying occurred in 2005 - should receive a slightly lesser sentence.

The Daily Record of Morristown reports that the panel determined Zarate should have nine years cut from his sentence, which was life in prison plus 14 years. The judges found the sentence he received for a weapons offense should run concurrently to his murder term, not consecutively.

The appellate panel also ordered the sentencing judge to explain why Zarate's youth and his older brother's influence were not found to be mitigating factors in the sentencing.

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