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Randolph convicted murderer’s appeal denied for additional charges

Zarate is serving a life sentence, plus 24 years after he and his younger brother, James were convicted of murdering and dismembering Randolph[1] resident Jennifer Parks in a home on Old Brookside Road in 2005. According to court records, Zarate punched a corrections officer in the chest after he was asked to present his identification card following a routine pat down search. He was charged with assault and received 15 days of detention, with credit for time already served, as well as 180 days of administrative segregation and 180 days of lost commutation time according to law enforcement.

The day after the incident, a search of his prison cell led to the discovery of Security Threat Group materials, specifically documents linking Zarate to a criminal gang with roots in Puerto Rico called, The Netas which has ties to the illegal drug trade. He was also found guilty of possessing the Security Threat Group materials, but did not receive any additional penalty for that infraction. Judges William E. Nugent and Michael A. Haas found that sufficient credible evidence in the record supported the Department of Corrections decision that Zarate was guilty of assaulting the corrections officer and possessing Security Threat Group materials and had his appeal denied according to court records.

Jonathan and James Zarate were 18 and 14 years old, respectively, at the time of the murder and were found guilty in separate trials in Morris County in 2008. Both brothers were tried as adults, convicted and are serving life sentences in state prison. Jonathan Zarate is serving a life sentence plus 19 years while his brother, who is now 25 years old serves a life sentence, which equates to 75 years of prison time in New Jersey.

Parks was 16 years old when she was murdered after she accepted an invitation from her neighbor, Jonathan Zarate, to watch television in his basement around 2 a.m. on July 30, 2005. The seemingly innocent hangout turned deadly after Parks and Jonathan Zarate got into an argument about the younger Zarate brother, who allegedly bullied Parks in the past. Jonathan Zarate admitted to striking Parks and then stuffing a bandana in her mouth to quiet her screams for help.

According to the prosecution s evidence, the younger brother, James Zarate was hiding in the basement and then proceeded to help his brother beat, choke and stab Parks before severing her legs and putting them into plastic bags to fit her body inside of a trunk that was discovered with the Zarate brothers on the Union Avenue Bridge the next night. The brothers then cleaned up the basement, put the trunk containing Parks body into their father s vehicle and attended a party. Jennifer Parks was the only child of Laurie and the now deceased David Parks. She loved Harry Potter books, her friends, daisies, and the trampoline in her backyard, her parents had said.

Both brothers are currently serving their sentences in New Jersey State Prison.


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