Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that the Honorable Peter J. Vazquez, J.S.C., sentenced Edelbarto Padilla, 36, of Highland Park to 50 years in state prison for the murder of Carlos Manuel Freitas, 27, of Newark.
On October 24, 2002, the two men had an altercation at the Ugha Ugha Social Club at 43 Joseph Street in Newark. At that time the club was frequented by waiters and others in the restaurant business for after-hours gatherings. Although the nature of the altercation between the two men remains unknown, Padilla pulled out a gun and shot Freitas three times, killing him.
Two weeks after the crime, Padilla was charged with the murder and warrants were issued, but he eluded police for nine years, until he was finally arrested in New Brunswick. The case was initially tried before a jury that was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. On April 24, 2012, a new jury found Padilla guilty of murder and two weapons charges.
Assistant Prosecutor Brian Pollock, who tried the case with Assistant Prosecutor Cheryl Cucinello, asked the judge to impose a 50-year sentence noting Padilla’s criminal history and “the senseless and brutal nature of the crime.’’ After Freitas was lying on the ground motionless and bleeding, Padilla shot him again, Pollock said.
Even though Padilla had no prior felony convictions, Pollock argued that Padilla, who is originally from Puerto Rico, demonstrated a disregard for the law and lack of remorse. He noted Padilla had been arrested on 16 prior occasions in three states and had 13 aliases.