Citizens help catch suspects in murder of Julio Cruz


Michael Holman and Dante Martin, both 18-year-olds from Trenton, were charged with first-degree felony murder and robbery Thursday in the beating death of Julio Cesar Cruz.

The Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini Jr. and Trenton Police Director Ralph Rivera Jr., among other county and state authorities, announced the arrests in connection with Cruz’s death on Feb. 15.

Felony murder carries a penalty of 30 years to life in state prison.

Holman and Martin were taken into custody and charged early Thursday morning by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force. Holman was arrested in close proximity to where the homicide occurred. Martin was charged at the prosecutor’s office.

The arrests are result of a tenacious investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force. Through witness interviews, neighborhood canvassing, and viewing hours and hours of surveillance video downloaded from local businesses, officers were able to identify and locate the suspects.

“The arrest made in this case are in very large part due to the assistance offered by local businesses through access to their video systems, and the willingness of concerned citizens to step up and be heard,” Prosecutor Bocchini said. He also praised the tireless efforts of the homicide task force and its use of old fashioned police work in developing information to identify and charge Holman and Martin.

“I commend the outstanding efforts put forth by members of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force identifying and bringing to justice those individuals responsible for this senseless act,” TPD director Rivera said. “As police director of the city of Trenton, I reaffirm my commitment to the community by continuing to work with the residents of the city. Together, we can bring forth positive change and improve our quality of life so we can all live without fear.” Rivera added.

Nineteen-year-old Julio Cesar Cruz was returning to his Rusling Avenue home in South Ward Trenton at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15, when he was approached by two assailants in an apparent robbery attempt.

The victim was able to bang on the front door and call for help. Another resident of the home immediately looked out a window and saw the two assailants throw the victim to the ground, causing what would become a fatal head injury. When other people inside of the home came out to assist Cruz, the assailants fled in different directions. Both Holman and Martin are being held in the Mercer County Correction Center in lieu of $1 million bail.

The task force has been operating since November 2013. Under the command of Mercer County Prosecutor’s Captain Robert Dispoto and Lieutenant Rich Frascella, the task force is comprised of officers with the prosecutor’s office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, and the Lawrence, Trenton and West Windsor police departments. Assistant Prosecutor James Scott is prosecuting the case.

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