Dear Supporters of Sinha Family:
Namaste. I am presenting updates on the proceedings in Dr. Divyendu Sinha murder case. The latest hearing was on Thursday, July 28, 2011. Alkabahen Sinha had returned from Bharat the day before.
Dr. Divyendu Sinha
Defense had filed these motions:
Severance: Separate the case from the assault (on Mr. Martino) immediately preceding assault on the Sinha family.
Dismiss indictments as the defendants had set out for simple assault and not for murder.
Change the venue to another county because of the publicity (There can be no presumed prejudice.)
Allow more time to study the medical records. (motion by the new attorney for Christopher Conway, Steve Altman)
(from Mr. Altman’s web site:
In September, 2010, Mr. Altman began representing Dharun Ravi, a Rutgers University freshman who was accused of using a webcam to invade the privacy of his college roommate, Tyler Clementi. Mr. Clementi’s subsequent suicide has led to a national and worldwide media frenzy about the case, and a national discussion on cyber-bullying and internet privacy.)
All five attorneys, as well as the defendants were present in the court.
- Steven K. Contreras Hassen I. Abdellah
- Christopher Conway Steve Altman
- Julian C. Daley Mitchell Ansell
- Cash Q. Johnson William Fetky
- Christian M.Tinli John J. Koufos
Steven Contreras Christopher Conway
Julian Daley Cash Johnson Christian Tinli
Atty.William Fetky Atty.Mitchell Ansell Atty. John Koufos
The following details are based on the notes I took in the court room; therefore, they are not verbatim but contain essence of what was discussed. They may not be 100% accurate and do miss some of the arguments that I could not jot down.
Arguments to severe Dr. Sinha murder case from the assault on Mr. Martino by John Koufos, attorney for Christian Tinli.
- It would have prejudicial impact on the jury.
- Assault on Martino and then on Sinha are two distinct, separate incidents.
- Community is already inflamed.
- Trying to get a fair jury will be impossible.
- Martino assault has little to do with the assault on Dr. Sinha.
- Jury may not decide each on its own merit.
- Jury will take Martino assault and lead it into assault on Sinha.
- These are two different cases: different victims, different ages, and different locations.
Mitch Ansell: Two different issues. If the two are allowed together, it will be prejudicial to my client.
Judge Ferencz: Both incidents are close to each other in time and both have same defendants.
William Fetky: I agree with Mr. Koufos.
Hassen Abdellah: This would elevate the culpability of my client; there would be a possibility of confusion (who owned the vehicle.)
Judge Ferencz: State’s contention would be: it was an ongoing conspiracy; significant difference is only that Martino got away.
Hassen Abdellah: When they (defendants) found that the car owner was different, confrontation dissipated. (My note: this argument was to imply that since confrontation in the first incident dissipated, the assault on Sinha family was not part of a continued conspiracy.)
Christopher Kuberiet, Middlesex County’s Assistant Public Prosecutor:
- State has to decide admission of Steven Contreras statements.
- Conversations (for conspiracy) started at the Wendy’s.
- Level of aggression is not disputed.
- Steven Contreras parked the car and blocked the cul de sac (to corner Martino’s car) and beat the s**** out of Martino.
- Then Julian Daley says, there are other kids, let’s beat them.
- Jury is instructed by the judge to decide each case on its own merit.
Decision on the motion to severe (separate) cases:
Judge Bradley Ferencz:
- Conspiracy was on going conduct at Wendy’s- preparation and plan.
- Court does not find dissimilarity (between two incidents.)
- Clearly, not being successful (in assault) first time (with Mr. Martino), they went on with the second (assault on Sinha family.)
- According to the evidences, these events are ongoing and linked together.
- Their conversations were conspiratorial in nature.
- There is no prejudicial evidence of crime charged.
- Court believes jury will be able to separate incidences and individuals.
- Legally, facts point to conspiracy.
- Ongoing nature of the conspiracy is clear.
Therefore, the court denies the motion to severe the cases (Assault on Martino from the assault on Sinha family.)
Motion to dismiss indictments:
One of the attorneys referred to the Grand Jury system in Texas and called it trial by accusation. Judge Ferencz commented that it was not so in New Jersey.
Steve Altman argued that the prosecutor went overboard in presentation to the Grand Jury.
The assistant Public Prosecutor, Mr. Kuberiet argued that what mattered is the conduct of these five people, not what was in their mind (meaning, the argument that they did not intend to murder Dr. Sinha did not hold water.)
Judge Bradley Ferencz:
Presentation to the Grand Jury in the case was proper. It is up to the Grand Jury to decide (whether to indict or not.)
I cannot grant the motion to dismiss the indictments.
Motion to change the venue to another county:
Judge Bradley Ferencz:
Press has been objective, not inflammatory.
Newspaper you (defense attorney) mentioned is- I won’t call it obscure, but I have never heard of it. This case is not covered by ABC, CBS, NBC, etc.
You may want to reserve this motion six weeks prior to the trial date.
Defense and the prosecution agreed that they did not have any objection to postponing it to six weeks before the trial.
Steve Altman, the attorney for Mr. Conway filed a motion indicating that he was going to engage a neuro-radiologist to review the medical reports of the two hospitals where Dr. Sinha was treated, so more time was needed. The judge asked him if he had already engaged the medical expert to which the answer was negative. The judge insisted that to keep the progress on track, the attorney must come back to him on August 22 and report on the progress of hiring of the medical expert.
Mr. Kuberiet mentioned that the State had all records from both the hospitals.
The judge set Tuesday, September 27, 2011 for next hearing. He ordered that all reports be presented at that time and all discoveries be completed by then.
The judge further indicated that the case could go to trial by November or December.
Motion by Julian Daley’s attorney to relax rules of his home confinement:
The attorney, Mitch Ansell argued that his client had behaved during two weeks on electronic bracelet. He should be allowed to go out in the yard to get fresh air as the range of the bracelet was only 50 ft. He should be allowed to go with his parents to
(1) Visit his therapist
(2) Attend church services
(3) Visit with his grandmother
The judge agreed to the request with these stipulations:
- Visit the therapist once a week
- Attend church once a week for one hour
- Allowed to visit grandmother in New York (twice a month, as indicated by Julian Daley’s mother)
- He can go out in the yard but not away from the property.
Mr. Christopher Kuberiet objected to the decision.
- Regarding permission to travel to New York City, he said that we have to crawl before walking.
- Julian Daley has record.
- His track record is to disregard conditions.
- His parents face possibility of forfeiture (of bail money).
The judge clarified his ruling that Julian Daley was permitted to move on his property but will not have any criminal contact and there should be no civil, municipal or criminal violation (otherwise, the bail would be forfeited.)
No horse playing (actual or perceived) or drinking
Same conditions as visit to church apply to visits for counseling.
As regards the start of the trial, we feel that in reality, the case won’t go to trial till early 2012 because currently courts are giving priority to those cases where the defendants are in jail for a prolonged period (there are quite a few dating back to 2009).
We ask the community to stay engaged and not forget that one of our bright community members was murdered for no reason and tomorrow, it could be any one of us. We could be effective as a community only if we band and stay together till justice is secured for Mrs. Alka Sinha and her children.
We will update you with the time of hearing on September 27, 2011 when that date comes closer. Please plan to attend.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Indian American Defense League (IADL)
Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA)
follow Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America at <VHPANews@twitter.com>.