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Michael Toto

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Michael Toto
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Court Information:
New Jersey Vicinage 8
Title:   Judge
Position:   Superior Court, Criminal Division
Active:   2005-2028
Past position:   Attorney in private practice
Personal History
Born:   1958
Undergraduate:   Rutgers University, 1980
Law School:   Rutgers Law School-Newark, 1983

Michael Toto is a judge on the Vicinage 8 Superior Court in New Jersey.[1] Toto was appointed to the court in 2005 and obtained tenured status in 2012. He will serve on the court until he reaches 70 years of age in 2028.[2][3]


Toto received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in 1980 and his J.D. from Rutgers Law School in 1983.[4]


Prior to his appointment to the bench, Toto was in private practice.[4]

Notable cases

Chemist kills her husband with Thallium

Tian Li, a 43-year-old Chinese-born chemist, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 63 years in September of 2013 for poisoning her husband. Xiaoye Wang, a software engineer, had met his future wife Li while earning his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. The couple lived in Monroe, New Jersey and had a young son.

Trouble arose shortly after their son’s birth, beginning with a series of domestic disturbances on April 12, 2009, where Li stated:

I was so sick from bearing your child and now you want a divorce. I will not let you go so easily. I will poison you and burn the house down.[5][6]

As their marriage deteriorated, Li researched thallium’s poisonous effects on humans and ordered it through her workplace, the New York City-based biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb.[7] Thallium is a slow acting poison that is difficult for doctors to detect due to its rarity.[8] On the day their divorce was to be finalized, Wang was admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and claimed that his wife had poisoned him. With this allegation, along with Li’s prior threats, investigators focused on Li as a prime suspect from the start.[9]

Wang died from the poison on January 26, 2011, and Li was arrested the following February.[9][8] Judge Michael Toto presided over Li’s case in the New Jersey Vicinage 8 courtroom. During the trial, a laboratory technician from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota testified that the level of thallium in Wang’s system at the time of his death was “off the charts.”[5]

The jury found Li guilty of murder and hindering prosecution on July 9, 2013. The following September 30th, she was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for nearly 63 years.

This case was featured in Judgepedia's Courtroom Weekly: Halloween edition on October 31, 2013.

See also

External links


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