Indian American Defense League (IADL)
Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA)
Courtesy: Star Ledger
Widow of Old Bridge beating victim plans to testify
Published: Sunday, April 08, 2012, 11:00 AM Updated: Sunday, April 08, 2012, 2:41 PM
OLD BRIDGE — When asked about her husband of 20 years, she cries.
“I relied on him to do everything,” she said.
And now, with two sons to raise, and two emotional trials looming, she misses him even more.
While on a stroll with his family late on a warm June night in Old Bridge in 2010, Divyendu Sinha, a 49-year-old computer scientist, was attacked near his Fela Drive home by five local teenagers in a night of senseless “wilding,” authorities say.
His wife and children watched in horror as four of the teens assaulted Sinha with their fists and feet, prosecutors said. The teens also are charged with attacking one of Sinha’s sons.
Before the night ended, Sinha was on life support at a New Brunswick hospital — while the teens bragged about the attack in text messages, investigators said. As Sinha fought for his life, the teens were arrested and charged with the beating. When he died four days later, the charges were upgraded to murder.
One of those teens, Steven Contreras goes on trial Tuesday — the first of two trials in the case.
Until now, Alka Sinha — who will testify for the prosecution — had not granted any interviews since the days immediately following the attack.
Sitting in her family room, next to a picture of her husband on an 8-foot poster that was displayed during his memorial service, Alka Sinha, 47, said the past 22 months have been a nightmare. She has attended every court hearing involving the five teenagers — Contreras, Cash Johnson, Julian Daley, Chris Conway and Christian Tinli. She wants justice for her husband.
“What I have lost, I will never be able to gain that again,” she said. “The void I have and my children have, it will always be there. Maybe one day, whatever is left in my life, I can move on with that.”
In the days after the attack, friends told her to take it “one day at a time,” Sinha said, “and I am following that advice, but it is very hard. There are a lot of decisions to make, decisions about the children, about finances, about the house.
“We made big decisions together, but he handled even the small things,” she said.
Sinha said her sons, Aashish, 18, and Ravi, 14, are pillars of support for her. One of the boys was injured in the beating, but not seriously, authorities said.
“They are very strong and they support me when I grow weak,” she said. “I’m glad they are very focused on their education. It is what their father wanted.”
When asked to describe her husband, Sinha began to cry quietly. Eventually, the words came out, slowly at first, but then more easily.
“He was the most wonderful person, such a loving and caring husband and father,” she said.
They moved to their Old Bridge neighborhood 18 years ago “because it was a nice, quiet, diverse neighborhood.”
“Before the incident, I never thought it could happen in this neighborhood,” Sinha said. “We felt secure and safe.”
She will be a witness at this week’s trial and at the second trial of the other four teenagers, scheduled for July 10. She said simply, “I am looking to get justice.”
She said she has drawn strength from her neighbors and members of the Old Bridge community who have helped her since “minutes after the incident.”
“From the little things to the biggest thing, they are always there for me,” she said.
Gil Derose, who lives across the street on Fela Drive, and Nick Ricciardi, who lives down the road, said they plan on attending the trial in New Brunswick before Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz. Neither witnessed the attack on their neighbor.
Derose said his sons knew of the five teenagers charged with the murder, four of whom were star athletes at Old Bridge High School.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “When we found out who (was arrested), I couldn’t believe they were high school kids here, local kids who were athletes.”
Ricciardi said his initial reaction to the attack and Divendyu Sinha’s death was “sadness for Alka and the boys and anger that these were neighborhood kids” who were arrested and charged.
Contreras is being tried separately because he implicated the other four in a statement he gave to investigators within days of the attack. Authorities said Contreras, who was 17 at the time, told investigators that, after a night of drinking that included several bottles of malt liquor, they went cruising, looking for someone to fight. Contreras denied he had been drinking.
Their last stop of the night was Fela Drive, where one of the teens saw what he thought were kids about 11:25 p.m. The “kids” turned out to be Sinha and his family.
Contreras told investigators Conway, Johnson, Daley and Tinli got out of the car and went after the group. Seconds after the attack, the four came running back and told him to leave. Contreras said he never saw the Sinha family, because he had stayed near the car.
The five teens are charged with murder and conspiracy in connection with Sinha’s death. They are also charged with assaulting a motorist a short time before the attack on Sinha.
Courtesy: Home News Tribune
Jury selection begins this week in trial of 1 of 5 accused in beating death of Old Bridge man
Jury selection will begin on Tuesday in Superior Court, New Brunswick, in the trial of one of those defendants, Steven K. Contreras, charged with murdering Divyendu Sinha, a 49-year-old computer scientist whose two sons, ages 16 and 12 at the time, also were assaulted.
Contreras, who will turn 19 on April 21, is being tried separately because of statements he made to authorities during the investigation that implicated the other four defendants, who are scheduled to stand trial for murder on July 10.
Prosecutors said Sinha was walking outside his home on Fela Drive, near Route 9, on June 25, 2010, when the group of Old Bridge High School students pulled up in a car and beat him and his sons. Alka was not harmed in the incident, but Sinha died three days later from a head injury suffered during the assault. Authorities said no weapons were used.
“He was a wonderful person to his family, to friends — a wonderful father and actually a mentor to our kids,” Alka said on Friday. “We used to do things together as a family. We used to wait for him come back from work and do different things, whether it was general discussion on current affairs or going to see something with the children. Those things are not there anymore.
“You cannot imagine how it has affected our children.”
The five defendants also are charged with assaulting Anthony Martino, 18, of Old Bridge, a motorist who was attacked minutes before the assault on Sinha and his sons.
The other four defendants in the case are Cash Q. Johnson, 18, Christian M. Tinli, 19, Christopher Conway, 18, and Julian C. Daley, 17. All defendants are residents of Old Bridge and were either 16 or 17 at the time of the assault.
Prosecutors severed Contreras’ trial from the other four defendants because, during the trial, his statements might contain information about the other -defendants who then would have a right to call Contreras as a witness to contradict the statements or cross-examine him. That would be in direct conflict with Contreras’ Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Contreras’ lawyer, Hassen Abdellah, could not immediately be reached for comment.
An earlier Family Court decision allowed the five defendants to be tried as adults, and each faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder.
“I want justice,” Alka said. “We live in a society where we have a justice system that works. I believe in our justice system and I’m looking forward to getting justice. We have gotten a lot of support from all around — in that way I’m blessed. I’m just looking forward to having the similar kind of support for the upcoming days.”
Nikhil Muzumdar said his family was very close with the Sinhas, whose children, he said, were about the same age as his. The families vacationed together.
“We’re close family friends, and this was a real loss for us,” Muzumdar said. “He was a real kind and very caring man, and he always wanted to help others in everything that he did. He helped his students — they have a lot of good things to say about him and have shown a lot of support to Mrs. Sinha.”
Alka said her husband had started teaching computer science at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and also taught at the College of Staten Island in the City University of New York (CUNY). Divyendu, who was raised in Patna, India, according towww.divyendusinha.com, held doctorates in philosophy and computer science.
Authorities said the 11-count grand jury indictment was handed up following an investigation that revealed no evidence that the attack on Martino, the attack on Sinha and his family, or the subsequent plan to assault another victim, was motivated by the victims’ race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or ethnicity, as required by New Jersey’s Bias Intimidation Law.
In addition to murder, the grand jury charged the five defendants with various counts of aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault. Additionally, the grand jury accused the defendants of riot and a related count of conspiracy, contending they acted as a group to commit crimes.
The five also were charged with two counts of hindering for trying to protect themselves and each other from prosecution by concealing evidence or misrepresenting facts about the attacks.
Along with the assault charges, the grand jury also charged the defendants with criminal mischief for damaging the car that was being driven by Martino.
Judge Bradley J. Ferencz will preside over Contreras’ trial.
“What happened was a real tragedy and I wouldn’t wish it to happen to even our worst enemy,” Muzumdar said. “It really completely destroyed a lot of things here in our day-to-day lives and we miss him a lot.”