A Long Branch man was handed a life prison term after he was convicted earlier this year in the strangulation death of a 40-year-old city woman found dead in a second floor bedroom of his Rockwell Avenue residence, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.
Christopher “Chato” Aparicio-Reyes, 23, of Long Branch, was given a life sentence, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed, or 63 years and 9 months, before becoming eligible for release on parole. He will also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.
The sentence was handed down by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley after a Monmouth County jury convicted Aparicio-Reyes, following a four-day trial in February, in the Dec. 13, 2015 strangulation murder of Jennifer Pizzuto, 40, also of Long Branch.
At trial in February, it was learned Aparicio-Reyes violently beat Pizzuto about her head and face in his room at 140 Rockwell Avenue in Long Branch, before deciding to kill her.
Pizzuto was discovered with numerous lacerations on her face and head in several areas, including on her lips and tongue after three of her teeth were knocked out. A forensics expert determined that Aparicio-Reyes inflicted these injuries through repeated blows, both while Pizzuto was standing and after she had fallen to the floor. Lastly, an autopsy revealed Aparicio-Reyes killed Pizzuto by squeezing her neck until she lost consciousness and eventually died with his arms still wrapped around her neck.
At trial, Aparicio-Reyes conceded he killed Pizzuto, albeit not purposely, but justified his actions by claiming Pizzuto had stolen from him and that he was drinking and using cocaine on the night of her murder. After attempting to hide her body in another room, Aparicio-Reyes then left the house and hid at a friend’s apartment until officers from the Long Branch Police Department and Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office found him the next morning.
The jury convicted Aparicio-Reyes during the first day of deliberations, finding he knowingly or purposely killed Pizzuto and was guilty of murder.
— Press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office