Stephen Scharf’s murder conviction was overturned Monday after a New Jersey appeals court determined that evidence presented in the first trial should never have been allowed.
Scharf was convicted of murdering his wife, Jody Scharf, by pushing her off a 120-foot cliff at Rockefeller Lookout in Palisades Park in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in September 1992.
On Monday, the court ruled that the jury should never have been allowed to hear hearsay testimony from friends and colleagues that Scharf’s wife, Jody, was afraid of him. The couple was in the process of getting a divorce at the time of the alleged murder.
“There is no reason that the victim's fear of defendant would have made it less likely that an accident occurred.” the State argued.
“The State argues that Scharf's fear of defendant would make her less likely to go to the Cliffs with him, but there is no evidence that he forced her to go with him, and there was no evidence of a struggle at the scene. The prejudicial impact of this evidence outweighed its probative value.”
The court agreed and overturned the conviction.
Scharf was arrested in 2008 and convicted three years later after his wife’s death was ruled a homicide. He was serving a life sentence in prison.
Dateline covered the Scharf case in the 2011 episode, ‘Over the Edge.’