Michelle Lodzinski’s murder was dismissed by the New Jersey Supreme Court on Tuesday by a 4-3 vote due to a lack of proper evidence, documents show.
“We now believe that after reviewing ‘all the evidence and having given the State the benefit of all its favorable testimony and all the positive conclusions drawn from this testimony’, no reasonable jury could find beyond any reasonable doubt that Lodzinski deliberately or knowingly caused Timothy’s death, “Judge Barry Albin wrote.
Lodzinski was released from prison later Tuesday, her lawyer Gerald Krovatin told CNN.
“This was a great day for the rule of law and the principles that matter to us – that beliefs should be based on evidence and not based on speculation or emotion,” Krovatin said. “I thought the Supreme Court … got it right.”
Krovatin said he met with Lodzinski at the Edna Mahan penitentiary after her release.
“I do not think it’s really sunk in with her yet. She’s really amazed that it all happened to her today. When I first told her the news this morning, she just said, ‘oh my God’ and started to cry.” said Krovatin. “She has been in jail for more than seven years in this case. It is understandably very emotional for her.”
Lodzinski reported his five-year-old son Timothy missing on May 25, 1991, and told police he disappeared at a carnival. Some of his remains were found almost a year later. A forensic doctor could not determine the cause of death.
Albin acknowledged that although Lodzinski gave “changing accounts of Timothy’s disappearance that cast doubt on her credibility,” she never admitted an incriminating admission, nor did any forensic evidence bind her to her son’s death.
“Searches of her house, her car and her trash generated no evidence of guilt. No one has ever observed Lodzinski abusing Timothy,” Albin wrote. He added that the forensic pathologist was unable to determine Timothy’s cause of death, saying: “According to most accounts, Lodzinski was caring and devoted to his son, even though he was challenged by the demands of everyday life as a young single mother.”
“Even if the evidence indicated that Timothy did not die accidentally, no testimony or evidence was offered to distinguish whether Timothy died from a person’s negligent, reckless or deliberate or knowledgeable acts, even if that person was Lodzinski. No conviction can be based on speculation or conjecture.We may never know the truth about what happened in this case.The only question is whether the evidence – presented in the light that is most favorable to the prosecution – supports a conclusion beyond any “reasonable doubt that Lodzinski deliberately or knowingly caused the death of her son. By that standard, the sentence can not be upheld,” Albin wrote.
Three judges were dissenting in Tuesday’s statement, saying they considered Lodzinski’s acquittal “unfounded and unfair” and that it “undermines the jury’s role at the heart of our criminal justice system.”
“If a fair jury could convict a defendant with the evidence seen and conclusions drawn positively to the state, appellate judges must respect that verdict, no matter how much they disagree,” the dissenting judges wrote.
Lodzinski has two sons who still live in Florida, her lawyer said, adding that she is “eager to get back as soon as she can.”
CNN’s Hayley Wilson contributed to this report.