One of Jennifer Parks’ killers wants to be re-sentenced as a juvenile

One of Jennifer Parks' killers wants to be re-sentenced as a juvenile
James Zarate

James Zarate was 14-years-old when he helped his older brother Jonathan brutally murder their 16-year-old Randolph, New Jersey, neighbor Jennifer Parks. For those of you not familiar with the story, Jennifer had been bullied by James Zarate and reported him to the school. To get back at Jennifer for his brother, Jonathan Zarate invited her over to his house to watch TV. Instead, the Zarate brothers brutally bludgeoned and stabbed Jennifer to death. In an effort to try to hide her body they dismembered Jennifer’s corpse and stuffed it into a trunk that they then put in the back of one of their parents’ Jeep. It was a full 24 hours before the pair, along with a friend, tried to dump Jennifer’s remains in the Passaic River. If it were not for a passing police officer, it may have been an eternity before Jennifer’s body would have been found.

Jonathan Zarate was convicted at trial and was sentenced to life plus 24 years. James was charged as an adult and was sentenced to life plus 14, but later had his sentence reduced by nine years. James Zarate has had many appeals denied, but now instead of appealing his conviction he’s trying to have his sentence reduced.

Recently, James Zarate’s public defender has filed a motion to have Zarate’s case moved to family court, in other words he wants to be sentenced as a juvenile.

If you’re a regular reader of this site you’ll notice that Zarate’s attorney is trying a familiar ploy. In 2016, New Jersey passed a law stating that no one under 15 could be charged as an adult. Zarate’s defender is asking for a juvenile re-sentencing under this ruling arguing that a 14-year-old’s brain isn’t fully developed enough to understand their actions when they commit murder. If the ruling were to fall into Zarate’s favor, more than likely he would be released after time served.

As I have argued many times in the past, this is a load of crap, as a 14-year-old’s brain is developed enough to know what murder is. Zarate willingly participated in Jennifer’s murder and at any time could have gone to his parents, the police or Jennifer to warn her in advance. He did none of these things. Instead he took part in an act only the most bloodthirsty of killers would have committed. To have him ever breathe the air outside of a New Jersey prison would not only be a travesty of justice but an insult to Jennifer’s memory. He is where he belongs.

Thanks to Rob for the tip.

UPDATE 4/14/2017: The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office has filed its opposition to James Zarate being re-sentenced as a juvenile. They argue that the new statute does not have “express declaration of retroactive application.”

Jennifer Parks’ killer has latest sentencing appeal denied

Jennifer Parks' killer has latest sentencing appeal denied
Jennifer Parks

It was 11 years ago today that 16-year-old Jennifer Parks, of Randolph, New Jersey, was brutally murdered by her neighbors, James and Jonathan Zarate. It may then be somewhat fitting that yesterday Jonathan Zarate had his latest sentencing appeal denied. Jonathan Zarate was 18 at the time of Jennifer’s murder and was convicted and sentenced to life in 2009.

Zarate’s latest appeal claimed that his counsel was ineffective by not further pursuing an insanity defense. The courts ruled that Zarate’s counsel did adequately pursue those options before pursuing a defense of diminished capacity.

Someone asked me earlier today if there is one particular crime that I’ve posted about that sticks out in my mind. That answer will always be Jennifer’s murder. Not only was it particularly violent, but it’s probably the most senseless murder I’ve ever posted about. Jennifer had so much potential to bring the world and the fact that she wasn’t able to is a travesty.

Resentencing ordered for one of Jennifer Parks’ killers

James Zarate
James Zarate

James Zarate was 14 when he and his brother Jonathan brutally murdered and dismembered their neighbor, 16-year-old Jennifer Parks, in 2005. The younger Zarate was tried as an adult and sentenced in 2009 to life in prison with the eligibility of parole after serving 76 years of his sentence.

Now a New Jersey judge has ordered a resentencing for James Zarate based on the recent court rulings that mandatory life without parole for teens in cruel and unusual. Let’s not forget how cruel and unusual the Zarate brothers were to Jennifer Parks. Not only did they stab and bludgeon her to death but they dismembered her body so they could stuff it in a trunk which they tried to throw into the Passaic River. That’s not even including how cruel and unusual Jennifer’s murder was to her family. Not only did Jennifer’s parents divorce after her murder but her father, David Parks, died of a heart attack only two years after Zarate’s conviction. I’m sure this order for resentencing has opened old wounds for the Parks family making them relive this nightmare again. Is that not cruel and unusual?

The only saving grace here is that out of the cases that I’m following none of the cases appealed on these recent rulings have resulted in reduced sentences.

Laurie Parks can’t appeal to have Jennifer brought back to her so James Zarate should not be returned to his family any time soon or ever.

Ten years since the murder of Jennifer Parks

Jennifer Parks
Jennifer Parks

It was ten years ago today that 16-year-old Jennifer Parks of Randolph, New Jersey, was murdered by her neighbors, the Zarate brothers, Jonathan and James.

James Zarate had invited Jennifer over to watch TV but it was just a plot to lure her into the Zarate household. The Zarate brother’s held a grudge against Jennifer after she had complained to her school about being bullied by James. The brothers brutally stabbed and bludgeoned Jennifer to death. Then to try to cover up their crime they dismembered Jennifer’s body and hid her remains in a trunk which they then put in the back of the family SUV for over a day. The brothers were arrested when they were caught trying to dump Jennifer’s remains into the Passaic River. Both brothers were sentenced to life in prison.

I first wrote about Jennifer back in 2005 due to the sheer brutality of it and the complete disregard for Jennifer’s life that the Zarate brothers had. During that time I had the pleasure of corresponding with Jennifer’s mother, Laurie Parks. She thanked me for what I was doing to make sure that Jennifer’s memory would never be forgotten. I also had the opportunity to meet two friends of Mrs. Parks that I consider close friends to this day. Unfortunately Jennifer’s father died from a heart attack but not before seeing his daughter’s killers sent to jail.

Today Jennifer would be 26 and we could only imagine what her life would have been like now. Would she be married with a daughter if her own or would should be years deep into a successful career? Unfortunately will never know since the Zarates stole the life of a girl filled with so much potential.

As long as I am writing I swear that Jennifer will never be forgotten.

Jennifer Parks’ murder featured on Investigation Discovery

Jennifer Parks
Jennifer Parks

Yesterday I noticed a spike in traffic for this site. These spikes are not uncommon. They usually mean that one of the stories I’ve posted about was featured on a TV show somewhere and the viewers want to find more information about it. Usually it’s about the infamous assault on Victoria Lindsay that the made for TV movie Girl Fight was based on. The only thing was the traffic this time wasn’t about Victoria but about the murder of Jennifer Parks.

For those of you unfamiliar with the story on July 30, 2005 16-year-old Jennifer of Randolph, New Jersey was lured to her death by her next door neighbor Jonathan Zarate. She was beaten and stabbed to death by Zarate and his brother James. James was a bully to Jennifer and with the help of her parents and school and the fact that James Zarate got himself arrested for vandalism he was forced to move away. The murder was in retaliation for James Zarate having to move away. After they brutally stabbed and bludgeoned Jennifer they dismembered her body and stuffed it in a trunk then put the trunk in the back of their parents SUV. The Zarate brothers waited a day before trying to dispose of Jennifer’s body in the Passaic River. A passing police officer caught the brothers before they could. Both Zarate brothers were convicted of Jennifer’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Last night I reached out to two dear friends of mine who are friends with Jennifer’s mother, Laurie Parks. I asked them if they had heard anything about Jennifer’s story being on TV. They told that yes there was something on TV about it on the Investigation Discovery channel. The show is called Deadly Sins with the subtitle of this episode being Good Boys Gone Very Bad. It’s Season 3 Episode 6. We’re cord cutters here in my home but I was able to find the episode for sale on Amazon.

The episode had two stories, the first was about Craig Rabinowitz who murdered his wife Stefanie. I was familiar with that story because I lived in the Philadelphia area at the time. Then came the part about Jennifer. I was not prepared for what I was about to watch.

Now I’ve been watching dramatic crime re-enactments since the days of Unsolved Mysteries and America’s Most Wanted. No re-enactment has ever gotten to me until now. Even though I’ve been blogging about this story for 9 years this episode really showed me just how brutal and senseless Jennifer’s murder was. Even though I know it was just an actress portraying Jennifer to see her thrive and become happy in her life after being rid of her tormentor only to have him and his brother savagely take that away from her and take Jennifer away from her loving family. It was hard for me to watch probably because I’ve communicated with Laurie Parks in the past and have friends who are friends with her.

The episode also had a lot of information that I was unaware of especially about how the Zarate brothers themselves were so violent and mentally disturbed. Also there were some details about Jennifer’s murder that I didn’t know as well that I can’t bring myself to write about.

If you have the ID channel on your service I would recommend catching this episode of Deadly Sins. If you’re like me though you can purchase it on Amazon.

(In the interest of transparency this was an unsolicited post and I receive no financial gain from it.)

James Zarate’s sentence upheld again

Judge won’t shorten prison term for James Zarate in killing of Randolph girl:

James Zarate
James Zarate

I apologize for not posting this story sooner. Usually the murder of Jennifer Parks is a story that demands my immediate attention but somehow I let this one sit for a while and too long.

James Zarate has had his life sentence for his part in Jennifer’s murder upheld once again. He was 14 at the time of Jennifer’s murder where he and his older brother Jonathan Zarate lured their neighbor Jennifer to their home where they killed her and dismembered her body. They stuffed her remains in a trunk and waited a day before trying to dispose of her remains in the Passaic River. Both brothers were sentenced to life.

James Zarate’s attorney tried arguing that the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the mandatory sentencing of juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional. Prosecutors argued that the Supreme Court ruling only applies to state statutes not to mention that James Zarate is eligible for parole, albeit when he’s in his seventies.

I don’t care that this scumbag was 14 at the time he helped kill Jennifer. Her murder not only ended her life but it’s destroyed the lives of her parents as well. The Parks divorced and then a couple of years ago David Parks died from a heart attack. There is no amount of jail time that either brother could serve that would even come close to being justice for Jennifer.

James Zarate’s conviction upheld

James Zarate
James Zarate

Court upholds murder conviction of man who helped kill teen in 2005:

James Zarate was 14 when he helped his older brother, Jonathan Zarate, brutally beat, stab, kill and dismember 16-year-old Jennifer Parks of Randolph, New Jersey. The Zarate brothers then stuffed Jennifer’s mutilated body into a trunk and waited 24 hours before trying to dump her body in the Passaic River.

Jonathan Zarate was sentenced to life plus 24 years. James Zarate was sentenced to life plus 14. Recently James Zarate had his conviction upheld but his sentence was reduced by nine years.

James Zarate will have nine years of his sentence reduced because time on a weapons conviction will now run concurrently with the murder conviction, the appellate court decided last week.

Don’t worry about the younger Zarate getting out any time soon. a life sentence in New Jersey is 76 years. Tack on the additional 5 (14 minus 9) and he would have to be close to 100 before he was even considered for release.

Since Jennifer’s murder her parents divorced and her father passed away last year. I can’t imagine the kind of strain that a murder like this can put on a family let alone a marriage and not to mention Laurie and David Parks as individuals. I defy anyone to try to tell me that James Zarate was a victim in all of this just because his age. The only victims here are the Parks family.

Zarate conviction upheld

Jonathan Zarate
Jonathan Zarate

Appeal fails for Randolph man convicted of killing Jennifer Parks:

Appeals court upholds decision to convict Randolph man of killing, dismembering neighbor:

Jonathan Zarate of Randolph, New Jersey was convicted and sentenced to life plus 24 years for the 2005 murder and dismemberment of his neighbor, 16-year-old Jennifer Parks. This past week the New Jersey court of appeals held up his conviction. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons his attorney appealed the conviction.

Unsuccessful arguments were that a change of trial venue should have been granted;

You could have held the trial in the Pine Barrens with squirrels and possums and this scumbag still would have been convicted.

Jonathan Zarate’s confession should have been suppressed;

Why? He was read his Miranda rights six times. Not only that but he admitted to Jennifer’s murder to just about every one he talked to in prison.

graphic, prejudicial photographs of Parks should have been suppressed;

If he was so proud of what he did then jury should get to see his bloody handiwork.

and the sentence was excessive.

You got to be shitting me on this one. Since it was New Jersey he had no shot of getting the death penalty. And after what he did to Jennifer throwing him feet first into a rusty woodchipper would not have been excessive and it’s what he deserves.

The three-judge panel rejected Jonathan Zarate’s arguments that pre-trial publicity tainted the jury pool

He stabbed and beat a 16-year-old girl and cut off her legs so he could stuff her in a trunk, he kept the trunk hidden for 24 hours then tried to dump her remains in the Passaic River. It’s his actions that caused any pre-trial publicity.

and that the jury pool did not have enough African Americans and Hispanic members.

This had nothing to do with race. You could have stacked the jury with transgendered albino Eskimo rodeo clowns and they still would have returned a guilty verdict.

I’m sure there will be more appeals in the future for this rat bastard but as I’ve said many times before Laurie Parks can’t appeal to anybody to bring Jennifer back. As long as Zarate still draws breath there will be no true justice.

Jonathan Zarate sentenced for assaulting guard

Jonathan Zarate
Jonathan Zarate

Randolph man serving life sentence gets additional time for assaulting prison guard:

Jonathan Zarate is serving life plus 24 years for the brutal murder and dismemberment of his neighbor, 16-year-old Jennifer Parks. Jennifer was murdered in 2005.

While Zarate was awaiting trial he assaulted a guard at the Morris County Jail in New Jersey. Back in July he pleaded guilty to that charge.

This past week he was sentenced to an additional five years for assaulting the guard.

So I’m sure some people are asking what’s the point if he’s already serving life. Well, besides the fact that he’s a vile scumbag that should be executed in New Jersey a life sentence doesn’t necessarily equate to the life of the inmate. In NJ a life sentence is actually 75 years and you are eligible for parole in 63. The more years added to his sentence will make it that much more unlikely Zarate could be paroled someday.

There will never be enough justice for Jennifer Parks.

Jonathan Zarate gets 5 more years

Jonathan Zarate
Jonathan Zarate

Randolph man convicted of killing neighbor gets additional 5 years for fight with guard:

In the many incarnations of this blog you may remember the brutal 2005 murder of Jennifer Parks. The 16-year-old girl was brutally murdered and dismembered by neighbor Jonathan Zarate.

Zarate was sentenced to life plus 24 years for Jennifer’s murder. Now he can add another 5 years to his sentence as he pleaded guilty to assaulting a prison guard at the Morris County jail in 2005.

I know that Zarate has no chance of seeing daylight ever again but anytime salt can be rubbed in his wounds it makes me happy. Unfortunately none of this can bring Jennifer back but it’s refreshing to see justice rightly served for once.