Harrison man charged with felony murder and robbery in 2007 murder of Jersey City truck driver

On February 3, 2020, during the evening hours, members of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit arrested and charged Joel Esquijarrosa, age 42, of Harrison, in connection with the August 24, 2007 murder of Rafael Angel Aguero Espinoza in Jersey City. He was arrested without incident at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

Esquijarrosa has been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3A(1)(2), a first-degree crime; Felony Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3A(3), a first-degree crime; Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1A(1), a first-degree crime; Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4D, a third-degree crime; and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5D, a fourth-degree crime.

The victim, Rafael Espinoza, was found dead on Friday, August 24, 2007 inside the cabin of his tractor trailer, which was parked on Senate Place and Van Winkle Avenue in Jersey City. The cause of death was later determined to be multiple stab wounds and the manner of death to be homicide. The investigation revealed the homicide was committed during the commission of a robbery of the victim. No arrests were made at the time.

On Monday, February 3, 2020, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted by the Harrison Police Department after Esquijarrosa was arrested in that jurisdiction on criminal mischief charges. Based on an investigation conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit, Esquijarrosa was charged in the 2007 murder.

Following his arrest, Esquijarrosa was transported to the Hudson County Correctional Facility in Kearny pending his first appearance. The Prosecutor’s Office has filed a motion for pretrial detention of the defendant.

Prosecutor Suarez credited the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Cold Case Unit and the Harrison Police Department for the investigation and arrest.

The above charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).

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