New Jersey’s Supreme Court threw out the 2016 conviction of a Florida woman for killing her five-year-old son 25 years earlier, ruling that despite the jury’s verdict, prosecutors failed to present enough evidence to prove she had purposely caused the boy’s death, the Associated Press reports. It was one of New Jersey’s most infamous cold cases, which had remained unresolved for years even though Michelle Lodzinski was considered a prime suspect from the outset after she gave varying accounts of what happened on the day Timothy Wiltsey was last seen. Lodzinski cannot be tried again, which would violate a prohibition on “double jeopardy," being tried twice for the same matter. Appellate Judge Jose Fuentes cast the deciding vote in favor of acquittal Tuesday after being called up to the Supreme Court to serve as a tie breaking vote after the justices split 3-3 upholding Lodzinski’s conviction in May.
“Even if the evidence suggested that Timothy did not die by accident, no testimony or evidence was offered to distinguish whether Timothy died by the negligent, reckless, or purposeful or knowing acts of a person, even if that person were Lodzinski,” the majority decision read. Lodzinski was a single mother in central New Jersey in 1991 when she told investigators Wiltsey had disappeared while they were at a carnival. She later gave conflicting accounts describing strangers she had seen who could have kidnapped the boy. Wiltsey’s body was found nearly a year later, in a marshy area near an office complex where Lodzinski had once worked. As time passed and no charges were filed, Lodzinski had two other children. She was living in Port St. Lucie, Fl., in 2014 when authorities in New Jersey charged her with killing Wiltsey. During her 2016 trial and on appeal, Lodzinski’s lawyers argued that prosecutors didn’t produce enough evidence to show she purposely caused the boy’s death.