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Judge Orders Hair Samples For Duo In Heart Attack Death Of Waldwick Mom

Juan Martinez Rojas, Claudia Hernandez
Juan Martinez Rojas, Claudia Hernandez Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia

WALDWICK, N.J. -- An undocumented Salvadoran couple from Waldwick who were involved in a violent fight when his mother died while their 7-year-old child watched will have to submit hair samples for forensic testing, a judge ruled Monday in Hackensack.

Juan Martinez Rojas, 29, will have to stop shaving his head until the samples can be taken, Superior Court Judge Frances A. McGrogan ruled.

Defense attorney Luis Acevedo, representing Claudia Hernandez, 25, argued that prosecutors didn't need the samples because they had cheek swabs from both.

Removing 50 hairs from her head “is painful,” he added.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer, in turn, said she is “entitled to the samples as a matter of law.”

Beyond that, she told the judge, the samples are needed to compare with those found at the crime scene, where “Hernandez apparently pulled out a clump of the victim’s hair.”

It was a little over a year ago, authorities said, that Hernandez knocked down Ana Angelina Rojas-Jovel as she tried to break up a fight between the couple.

Rojas-Jovel, 46, then suffered a heart attack and died.

Hernandez faces manslaughter and aggravated assault charges, in addition to child neglect, destroying evidence and lying to police.

Acevedo told Daily Voice that Hernandez was offered seven years in state prison in exchange for a guilty plea. Prosecutors offered Martinez- Rojas five years; he is charged with child endangerment and lying to investigators.

Both will be deported once they are released.

The couple were “punching and scratching each other” after returning overnight to their first-floor Waldwick Avenue home from a party when Rojas-Jovel intervened, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said hours after their arrests.

Hernandez Soriano assaulted the woman, sending her into cardiac arrest, then “concealed items of evidence [that] were later found during a search of the crime scene,” the prosecutor said at the time. These included clumps of the victims hair, authorities later revealed.

Waldwick police responding to their 911 call found the victim dead on a bedroom floor, he said.

Molinelli’s detectives interviewed witnesses, including the child.

Both defendants remained held in the Bergen County Jail -- Hernandez on $250,000 bail and Martinez on $75,000.

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