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N.J. Man Charged in Brother’s 1972 Death

November 15, 2006

LODI, N.J. (AP) _ In 1972, the body of a 6-year-old boy was found in the cab of a water truck at a construction site, nude and battered. He had been raped, stabbed and strangled.

Thirty-four years later, the boy’s brother has been charged with his murder, and on Tuesday, a third sibling, Michael Barbarino, called on his family to help investigators prosecute him.

``I cannot and will not support my brother,″ Michael Barbarino said at a news conference.

Joseph Barbarino, 50, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and felony murder under juvenile statutes stemming from the April 5, 1972, death of his brother, Vincent Barbarino.

Barbarino, who was 15 at the time of the slaying, is being held without bail in the county jail.

The prosecutor’s office said it plans to decide later whether to seek to try him as an adult.

County Prosecutor John Molinelli said Monday at a news conference announcing Joseph Barbarino’s arrest that the teenager lured his younger brother to a construction site intending to sexually assault him.

There was evidence of a struggle and the child’s body was found in the cab of a water truck, he said. An autopsy indicated Vincent Barbarino had been stabbed numerous times and his skull had been fractured.

Molinelli said the elder Barbarino had been raping the child for ``quite some time.″

Immediately after Joseph Barbarino pleaded not guilty to the charges Tuesday, Michael Barbarino went before cameras outside the Bergen County Courthouse to denounce him and ask the rest of the family to tell investigators what they know about the killing.

He said he is asking everybody in the family to tell authorities what they know, ``and stop hiding,″ he said.

His plea to family members to speak out was just the latest twist in a saga that has roiled the family _ and this Bergen County town _ for a generation.

Michael Barbarino, 38, was 3 years old when his brother Vincent was killed. He said he gave a statement to authorities in 1988.

``Other people in my family have spoken with the police,″ he said. ``They are now sitting behind closed doors like they don’t know nothing. I will not support that.″

At the time, the killing spread fear throughout northern New Jersey, and the case prompted many parents here to keep their children indoors after school for weeks afterward.

Local and county authorities revisiting the old case developed new forensic evidence that did not include DNA, said Michael Mordaga, chief of detectives for the prosecutor’s office. Mordaga said Michael Barbarino would be a key witness in the case, but that others were also expected to give crucial testimony.

The Barbarino family is well known to police.

On Christmas Day 1995, Michael Barbarino held police at bay for two hours, threatening to shoot himself and any officer who got too near him, said Police Chief Vincent Caruso, who was a hostage negotiator that day and ultimately persuaded Barbarino to surrender.

Barbarino was not armed, and he was referred for psychiatric evaluation, the chief said. ``He was in a garage and said he had a handgun and he was going to shoot the first police officer through the door,″ Caruso said.

Michael Barbarino also served three years in prison for burglary and was jailed a year later for setting fire to an apartment building.

Joseph Barbarino, a married plumber’s assistant who lives at home with his mother, has a criminal history dating to 1979, when he served six months in jail for assault with a deadly weapon. He also has served time in prison for burglary and arson.

It was not immediately clear what maximum penalties Joseph Barbarino could face if convicted as a juvenile because the law has changed considerably since the killing, authorities said.

Under laws at the time of the killing, penalties range from probation to life in prison.

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