UNION COUNTY, NJ — The prosecutor that secured the conviction of a Union man for killing his Cranford girlfriend, has been honored by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
The awareness week that started on April 11 honored victim rights and those who advocate for them.
Among those honored was Scott Peterson, who received the Gladiator Award following his conviction last fall of Matthew Ballister, who killed his girlfriend at his Union home, dismembered her body and disposed of the parts in several trash bags in an industrial area in Newark.
The Gladiator Award is given to an assistant prosecutor or detective who demonstrates “extraordinary commitment and zeal to ensure that the criminal justice system treat victims with compassion and dignity during the prosecution process,” the state Office of the Attorney General’s website writes.
Peterson has served in the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit since October 2016, an April 11 UCPO press release states. Prior to working for the SVU, Peterson spent five years working on the county’s Homicide Task Force.
Peterson’s conviction of Ballister in the murder of April Wyckoff came after a six-week trial. Ballister admitted he killed Wyckoff, but insisted her death was accidental.
A UCPO press release notes that Peterson kept in constant contact with Wyckoff’s family following the murder, and throughout the trial, forming “a tight-knit bond with them.”
After the verdict, Ballister was sentenced to 70 years in state prison in December.
Other UCPO staff members that were honored include, Ted Merced, and Azucena “Susie” Arias.
“Scott, Ted, and Susie represent the absolute best of our Office – they view their work as a calling,” acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said in the release. “It’s fitting that they receive this deserved recognition during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.”