WILDWOOD - A South Jersey man can't be tried on a rape charge in a case where DNA evidence found on a woman's body was not identified for more than 30 years, an appeals court has ruled.
Jerry Rosado of Millville was charged in April 2022 with the sexual assault of Susan Negersmith, a New York woman who was killed while visiting Wildwood in May 1990.
DNA evidence found on the 20-year-old’s body was not linked to Rosado until June 2021, authorities said.
Rosado, then 62, was charged after additional investigation in April 2022.
Why won't Jerry Rosado face trial for rape of Susan Negersmith
But a three-judge panel ruled March 29 that the statute of limitations in 1990 required prosecution to begin within five years of a sexual assault.
It ordered a trial judge to order the dismissal of the criminal complaint against Rosado.
The complaint alleged Rosado engaged in sex with Negersmith when he knew or should have known she was "physically incapacitated due to alcohol."
The charge is to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it cannot be brought against Rosado in the future.
The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office could not be reached for immediate comment on the decision.
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Why was the previous ruling overturned?
The trial judge previously had rejected an argument by Rosado's public defender that a 2002 amendment to the statute of limitations did not apply to his case.
According to the appellate ruling, the change says the statute of limitations begins to run only when authorities have both the physical evidence and DNA or fingerprint evidence needed to identify a suspect.
It notes the 2002 amendment has no language indicating it was meant to be retroactive.
The Legislature instead “stated that the amendment ‘shall take effect immediately,’” the ruling noted.
Police collected DNA samples after Negersmith’s body was found behind a restaurant with her clothing partially removed.
Rosado became a person of interest after a laboratory in 2018 used genetic genealogy analysis to develop a pool of potential suspects, the ruling said.
An autopsy initially identified the manner of death as accidental, but that finding was changed to homicide in 1996.
No one has been charged with Negersmith's murder.
Jim Walsh is a senior reporter with the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and The Daily Journal.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: Man won't get trial in 1990 Wildwood rape of Susan Negersmith