The killer of a 29-year-old Brick Township man received a 40-year prison sentence Thursday, officials said.
Joseph Villani, 22, of Ocean Township (Monmouth County) was sentenced to 40 years in state prison for his role in connection with the 2017 killing of Trupal Patel, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley sentenced Villani to serve a minimum of 25.5 years before he is eligible for release on parole. Once released, Villani will be under parole supervision for five years.
Villani pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, to first degree aggravated manslaughter, second degree conspiracy to commit armed robbery, first degree armed robbery, second degree disturbing of human remains and third degree witness tampering.
The charges were a result of a joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean Township, Wall Township and Asbury Park police departments after Patel was found dead in Shark River Park on Feb. 22, 2017. A Monmouth County park ranger, who was collecting litter in the area, discovered the body of the 29-year Brick Township man old along the side of Gully Road and down a slight slope. The ranger reported the discovery at approximately 8:37 a.m., when officers from the Wall Township Police Department were dispatched to the area and confirmed the presence of a deceased male.
Within a short period of time, the deceased man was identified as Patel and it was discovered that he had been reported missing to the Asbury Park Police Department by a friend on Feb. 9, 2017. A black 2003 Jaguar that Patel was driving prior to his disappearance was discovered abandoned on an Asbury Park street on that same day.
Ultimately, detectives involved in the investigation determined the homicide had occurred at Villani’s Ocean Township residence on the afternoon of Feb. 6, 2017. Villani was arrested for the homicide on Feb. 25, 2017. An additional investigation conducted by detectives revealed evidence that Villani conspired with his girlfriend, Raquel Garajau, to commit the crimes and that she aided him in destroying and concealing evidence in connection with the robbery and homicide of Patel.
At his plea before Oxley, Villani admitted that, while dating Garajau, the couple planned to rob Patel. Villani stated that Garajau assisted him with the planning of the robbery and knew that he would be armed with a .22 caliber Marlin long rifle. He admitted to shooting the victim three times during the robbery, which occurred within the garage of Villani’s Ocean Township home. Villani told the Court that after the killing, Garajau assisted him in hiding evidence and also shared in the proceeds of the robbery.
This past January, Garajau, 21, of Tinton Falls, was sentenced to 33 years in prison for numerous charges including first degree felony murder, third degree conspiracy to distribute marijuana, three counts of fourth degree tampering with physical evidence, two counts of third degree Hindering Apprehension, and third degree witness tampering.
During her sentencing, Oxley highlighted Garajau’s lack of remorse for her role in the killing.