Photo: undated photo of Edward Ates in court.
Ates was convicted in October of murdering his son-in-law in 2006 over a heated custody dispute involving his daughter, Stacey. Prosecutors argued that Ates broke into Duncsak's house, waited in the basement for him to return, then ran up the stairs and shot Duncsak in the hallway of his northern New Jersey home.
Ates' attorney, Walter Lesnevich, argued at trial that his obese client suffered from diabetes and lacked the energy or ability to climb a flight of stairs and be able to accurately shoot a gun.
Photo: Edward Ates in an undated photo.
Investigators, however, said Ates had done research on his computer on how to pick locks and how to build silencers. He also viewed a Web site called "How to commit the perfect murder," which probably should have listed "don't read this Web site" as rule number one. Police also found that Ates had used his computer to research .22 caliber handguns.
Judge Harry Carroll called the killing of Paul Duncsak "a cold and calculated execution" when he handed Ates the maximum sentence allowable Thursday Dec. 17. When his convictions on burglary, weapons and witness tampering counts are factored in, the 65-year-old Ates won't be eligible for parole for more than 66 years.
Before sentence was pronounced, the handcuffed Ates stood up and made a short statement that prompted gasps from some of the victim's supporters.
"All I can say is, I'm innocent," Ates said. "The jury got it wrong. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice."
More than half of the jurors who convicted Ates attended the sentencing. "I felt it was important to come," juror Miosoti Santos told the Associated Press. "I figured it was the least I could do."
She and other jurors declined to comment on their deliberations.
After the sentencing the victim's sister-in-law, Barbara Duncsak said "We feel justice was served…the jurors did a wonderful job. He was guilty and he should get the maximum."