MAYS LANDING — An Atlantic County woman was convicted today of murdering her boyfriend inside their Egg Harbor Township home in 2006, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Diane Ruberton announced.
Yesterday afternoon, Thursday, January 19, 2017, concluding a 7-day trial, an Atlantic County jury found Eileen Leone, now 46, guilty of the 2006 murder of Darius Smith, 32- years-old, inside the Egg Harbor Township home that they shared with their 4-year-old child.
On June 29, 2006 at 9:27 p.m. Egg Harbor Township police responded to a 9-1-1 call made by Eileen Leone, then 35-years-old, from inside the couple’s home in the Heathercroft Condominium complex, EHT. Police found Smith in the living room, suffering from head injuries.
Emergency personnel transported Smith to the AtlanticCare Regional Medical Center— City Division, where he died of his injuries hours later. Atlantic County Medical Examiner Dr. Hydow Park performed the autopsy that determined the victim died from blunt force trauma to the head.
An 8-year investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit led to a direct presentment of the case to an Atlantic County Grand Jury on the morning of September 9, 2014. The Grand Jury indicted Eileen Leone for murder—a 1st degree crime.
Leone, living then on the 8000 block of Atlantic Avenue, Margate, NJ, was arrested later the same day, at 9:45 p.m., on the 100 block of Longport Blvd., EHT, by Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit detectives, and members of the Egg Harbor Township, Somers Point, and Ventnor Police Departments.
Leone was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility in lieu of $750,000 cash bail, set by Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Donio.
The jury trial before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael Blee began on January 4, 2017 and concluded yesterday, after 4 hours of deliberations.
During the trial, Atlantic County Assistant Prosecutor David Ruffenach, who represented the State in the case, presented evidence that Leone and Smith had been involved in an escalating argument during the day of June 29, 2006, and that Leone attacked Smith from behind as he sat on a couch, striking him repeatedly with a fireplace poker—the only poker in a rack of 4 fireplace implements that was found by police to be clean, the other three coated in dust. The State alleged that Leone’s actions shattered Smith’s skull and caused his death in the hospital the next day.
Prosecutor Ruffenach further argued that Leone called 9-1-1 and claimed, then and in several subsequent interviews in which she gave widely conflicting versions of events, that an unknown individual, or unknown individuals, had entered the house that night and attacked Smith.
Judge Blee scheduled Eileen Leone’s sentencing for March 3, 2017 at 8:45 a.m.
Assistant Prosecutor Ruffenach said, “It took ten years to bring this matter to its proper conclusion, and although we know that nothing can make up for the loss of a family’s loved one, we are happy that we could provide some justice and provide some peace for the family of Darius Smith.”
Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-909-7800 or go to the Prosecutor’s Office Web site at http://www.acpo.org/tips.html and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 609-652-1234 or 1-800-658-8477 (TIPS) or visit the Crime Stoppers Website at http://www.crimestoppersatlantic.com/. Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.