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Paul Kamienski

Other New Jersey Exonerations
On September 24, 1983, the body of 33-year-old Henry DeTournay was found in Barnegat Bay near Toms River, New Jersey. The body was wrapped in a blanket and sleeping bag and tied to a cement block. The following day, the body of DeTournay’s 39-year-old wife, Barbara, was discovered washed up on shore not far away. Both had been shot multiple times.

The investigation focused on 35-year-old Paul Kamienski, whose business card for his family funeral home was found in one of Henry DeTournay’s pockets. Kamienski was a high-living bachelor with a speedboat, three businesses, including the funeral home, a residence in Florida and a houseboat on the Jersey Shore. He partied often and frequently indulged in cocaine.

Initially, no charges were filed against Kamienski. Then, two years after the bodies were found, Kamienski and his girlfriend, Donna Duckworth, were charged with conspiring to distribute diazepam (commonly known as Valium). The charge against Kamienski was dropped, but Duckworth pled guilty and began to cooperate with law enforcement in their investigation of the DeTournay murders.

Ultimately, in October 1987, Ocean County law enforcement charged Kamienski and two other men, Anthony Alongi and Joseph Marsieno, with murder and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Based largely on Duckworth’s statements, the prosecution alleged that Kamienski had set up a drug deal in which the DeTournays would sell three kilograms of cocaine to Alongi and Marsieno for $150,000. But instead of producing the money, Marsieno pulled a gun and killed the DeTournays on September 19, 1983.

Kamienski, Alongi and Marsieno went on trial in the fall of 1988. Duckworth testified that she and Kamienski met the DeTournays in 1982 when the DeTournays docked their boat at the same New Jersey marina where Kamienski kept his boat.

According to Duckworth, Henry DeTournay visited Kamienski on his boat just prior to Labor Day in 1983 and asked if he knew anyone who wanted to buy cocaine. At that time, Kamienski was purchasing his cocaine from Marsieno and Alongi, so Kamienski introduced the couple to Alongi, who lived in a home on the bay.

Barbara DeTournay’s sister testified that after that weekend, Barbara told her that they were going to make a cocaine deal that would leave them “set for life.”

Marsieno’s girlfriend, Jeanne Yurcisin, testified that the deal was supposed to occur on September 18, 1983, but that Marsieno came back angry because the DeTournays wanted to see the money first. Yurcisin said Marsieno said “he had no intention of paying them any money, that he would kill them before they got any of his money.” She said Marsieno opened a briefcase and it contained only a gun and no money.

Jeffrey Sidney, the man who drove the cocaine from Florida to New Jersey, testified that the deal was rescheduled for September 19. He said that Barbara DeTournay came to his hotel, picked up the cocaine and left in a car driven by a man he later identified as Alongi.

Duckworth said Kamienski brought her to Alongi’s home and told her to wait in the kitchen with Alongi’s girlfriend. He then walked out the back door. A few minutes later Duckworth said she, too, went out the back door because Alongi’s girlfriend was on the telephone.

Duckworth said she saw Kamienski standing by the dock in back of Alongi’s house. Alongi was standing on a boat tied up there. She saw a blanket and sleeping bag in the boat and what appeared to be the shape of a body inside. The dock was wet, as if it had been hosed off. When Alongi lunged at Duckworth, Kamienski said she was “alright” and Duckworth went back inside.

Duckworth went with Alongi’s girlfriend to buy alcohol and then they had drinks with Kamienski, Alongi and Marsieno. At one point, Duckworth said Alongi took her upstairs and showed a gun and a phone that had “hitman” printed on it and warned her that “if I didn’t be quiet, I’d end up like my friends.”

Later that night, after Duckworth and Kamienski left the home, Duckworth said Kamienski told her “he couldn’t control what happened.” He said that Henry DeTournay was shot first and “Barbara didn’t suffer.”

Duckworth said that in the ensuing days, Marsieno gave cocaine to Kamienski and Alongi for free.

Duckworth told the jury that the blankets the bodies were wrapped in when discovered were similar to blankets she had seen on Kamienski’s boat and that a towel found with the bodies resembled one she had seen Kamienski use to polish his boat. She also testified that the hitch knots shown in the photographs of the bodies were a distinctive type of knot that Kamienski employed.

Kamienski did not testify.

On November 18, 1988, the jury acquitted Kamienski, Alongi and Marsieno of charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. All three were convicted of felony murder as accomplices and conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute. Marsieno was found guilty of first degree murder.

A month later, Ocean County Superior Court Judge Paul Perskie, who had presided over the trial, dismissed the felony murder convictions against Alongi and Kamienski based on the prosecution’s statements in final arguments to the jury that there was no evidence that Kamienski knew the murders were going to happen. Perskie ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support guilty verdicts for murder.

The state appealed and the New Jersey Court of Appeals reversed Perskie and re-instated the murder convictions. Kamienski was sentenced to life in prison—as were Alongi and Marsieno. Kamienski was also sentenced to 12 years on the drug conspiracy conviction.

Attorneys for Kamienski filed Freedom of Information Act requests and obtained FBI reports of analyses of the blankets, sleeping bag and the towel. The reports showed that there was no physical evidence linking Kamienski to the murder. The defense also retained an expert who said that the knots that Duckworth said had been unique were in fact quite common.
Kamienski presented this new evidence in a federal petition for habeas corpus. They also contended that prosecutors had hidden a deal they made with Duckworth because she had not been sentenced until after Kamienski was convicted and was then allowed into a pretrial diversion program which allowed her conviction to be erased. The prosecution denied there was any deal. 
A federal district judge denied the habeas corpus petition. However, in April 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit reversed and granted the petition, setting aside the murder conviction. The drug conspiracy conviction was left intact. The Appeals Court found that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a murder conviction. The Court said that while there was evidence that Kamienski set up the deal, there was only “rank speculation” that he was involved in a plot to kill the DeTournays.

Kamienski was released from prison on June 16, 2009. The prosecution’s only avenue was to appeal—the Appeals Court ruling precluded a re-prosecution of Kamienski. On January 19, 2010, the prosecution’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari was denied.

In 2011, Kamienski filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the state of New Jersey and law enforcement authorities. It was dismissed in 2019. Separately, he was awarded $343,000 plus $90,000 in attorney's fees under New Jersey's Mistaken Imprisonment Act, but in 2017, the New Jersey Supreme Court vacated the award. The case was remanded to the trial court after the Supreme Court ruled that there was insufficient evidence of Kamienski's innocence.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/29/2013
Last Updated: 10/15/2019
State:New Jersey
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Additional Convictions:Drug Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:1983
Age at the date of reported crime:35
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No