April 25, 2012
Dear Supporters of Sinha Family and Community Members:
Namaste. Here is the summary of three days of trial (April 19, 20, 24) of Dr. Divyendu Sinha’s Murder Case.
Dr. Divyendu Sinha (1961-2010)
Remaining dates of the trial this week are: April 25, 26, and 27. Trial is likely to conclude on Friday.
Ashish Sinha, elder son of Divyendu and Alka Sinha is expected to testify tomorrow, Thursday.
Time is from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with one hour lunch break, usually from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. If you plan to attend, either arrive by 8:45 AM or 1:15 PM at court room #501. Also keep 10 minutes for security check. Please call me at 732-754-1727 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org , if you are coming.
The attack on the Sinha family occurred on the night of June 25, 2010 around 11:20 PM. Dr. Sinha died of head injuries on June 28.
Attackers who were indicted by a Grand Jury are: Steven Contreras (SC) 18, Cash Q. Johnson (CJ), 18, Christian M. Tinli (CT), 19, Christopher Conway (CC), 18, and Julian C. Daley (JD), 17.
While Steven Contreras is being tried separately, trial of the remaining four defendants will tentatively start on July 10.
Mrs. Alka Sinha Steven Contreras
Trial Day 3, Thursday, April 19, 2012
Judge: Bradley Ferencz (BF)
Asst. Public Prosecutor: Christopher Kuberiet (CK)
Defense Attorney: Hassen Abdellah (HA)
Defendant: Steven Contreras (SC)
State vs. Steven Contreras Prosecutor File #2010-2581 Indictment: 10-11-01628
Following Witnesses took stand and were cross examined.
1. Dr. Junaid Shaikh (JS), Deputy Medical Examiner, Union County, NJ
2. Anthony Martino (AM), Whose car was chased into a cul de sac and attacked by the defendants
3. Michael Martinaz (MM), owner of the car attacked
4. Shanon Andejar (AJ), a neighbor of Martinaz
5. Barbara Anderson (BA), a neighbor of Mr. Colleymore, whose solar light was damaged by the defendants
6. Mr. Collymore (CO), whose solar light lantern was used as a projectile by the defendants
7. Salvatore Lopez (SL), a friend of the defendants
Witness Dr. Junaid Shaikh (JS):
DR. Shaikh (JS) had performed autopsy on Divyendu Sinha as the Deputy Medical examiner of Union County. Assistant Public Prosecutor, Christopher Kuberiet (CK) asked a series of questions to extensively display background and qualifications of JS. This brought out that:
JS had his medical schooling in Karachi Pakistan, he came to USA 1n 1982, has worked in Columbus, OH, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Newark and Union County in capacities ranging from Pathologist to Deputy Medical Examiner (ME). JS has performed as a ME in several counties of NJ, such as Essex, Passaic, Morris, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, Salem, etc., though he is employed by the Union County because of his expertise. He has performed approximately 4000 autopsies. He has taught at UMDNJ and is a member of several prestigious national and international professional organizations.
In answers to CK’s questions, JS informed the court and the jury that a ME in forensic pathology works under state or county and has legal mandate to investigate cause and manner of death.
CK: What is an autopsy?
JS: It is a medical and surgical procedure on a deceased in a laboratory environment. Hospital deaths are autopsied in hospital as there is no foul play suspected. Forensic pathology is more intense.
CK: How is an autopsy performed?
JS: An incision is made from ear to ear. Another one is made from shoulder to chest to abdomen. Photos are taken, reports are made and body fluid samples are taken.
CK: Why is it important to decide cause of death?
JS: It is required by the state to issue a death certificate. Death certificate is standardized all over USA. It can be signed only by a physician or a court. If there is no physician available then, it is the duty of the Medical Examiner.
Cause of death is determined based on local investigation, our investigation and medical charts.
There are five Manners of Death, Natural, Accidental, by Suicide, Homicide, Undetermined and sometimes “Pending further investigation. These are opinions based on information and may be modified.
CK: What is pathology?
JS: Pathology is a specialty of medicine; it is a non-clinical specialty. They work behind the scene in hospitals and perform biopsy, study body fluids, etc…
CK: What is Forensic Pathology?
JS: It is a sub specialty of Pathology. Whole purpose is to determine Cause and Manner of death.
CK: How often have you testified in court?
JS: 40 times in NJ.
At this point CK asked the Judge that the State wanted the court to recognize Dr. Junaid Shaikh as an expert Witness.
Judge, Bradley Ferencz explained to the Jury what an expert Witness was. While an ordinary witness can only testify in facts and cannot give an opinion, an expert witness can give opinion on matters which they are versed in. He further told the Jury that they were not bound by such opinion. Examine opinion; examine reasons given and credibility of the expert witness. He also cautioned the Jury that some photos of the autopsy would be shown; the Jury should not react emotionally and remain objective.
Then with no objection from the defense attorney, Hassen Abdellah (HA), the judge declared De. Junaid Shaikh as an expert witness.
JS described how autopsy is performed on the deceased,
The body is brought to the autopsy room in a sealed bag which is opened with the permission of the Medical Director in presence of the Law Enforcement Agent (LEA) and a Medical Assistant. X-rays may be taken. Clothes are removed. Front and back are examined and objects (such as a bullet casing) are recovered. Evidence is given to the LEA. LEA also take photos during the autopsy. LEA’s presence ensures that it is not one person’s opinion.
CK: Your opinion on the death of Divyendu Sinha?
JS: Blunt Force Trauma (BTF) to the head. This was based on record of examination, LEA report and external and internal examinations.
There was injury to the tissues behind right temple.
CK: is that medical certainty?
Tissue samples were taken. Toxicology samples – blood and urine were taken. Report of toxicology exam did not impact the Blunt Force Trauma decision.
CK: How does BTF causes death?
JS: Any blunt object impact on skull/body causes injury. Contusion, abrasion or tear of tissue may happen. Deeper level injury and fracture can occur.
On Divyendu Sinha’s body there was BTF to the right temple. There was contusion of tissue, skull was not fractured but there was injury to brain and brain substance. There was intraventicular hemorrhage. Instead of cerebral spinal fluid in the cavity, there was blood. Blood Is not supposed to be outside the brain. Inured vessels in the inner side of the brain cause bleeding inside the brain. This is an irritant to the brain and brain substance. Since the brain is inside a closed cavity, it cannot expand so it swells into the spinal canal. This causes further injury to the brain. This has a cascading effect. Herniation is any object moving out of its boundary. Neurosurgeon makes a hole opens the skull to relieve the pressure on the brain. When the brain herniates into the spinal canal, it becomes flat.
CK: Manner of Death of Divyendu Sinha?
At this point CK projected five photographs taken during the autopsy of the brain, skull and scalp.
There was cerebral edema (swelling of brain.) Brain was flattened. For tissues to be viable there has to be blood supply otherwise it dies.
There was ½” contusion in the area under the skin behind right ear. There was hemorrhage here.
A single artery in the heart was blocked 70% Left ventricular had thickened.
Defense Attorney Abdellah (HA) had no questions.
Witness, Anthony Martino (AM):
Lives in Old Bridge and 20 years old, high school graduate.
This was the summary of his testimony: He was involved in a motor vehicle incident around 11:30 PM on the night of June 25, 2010. Prior to the incident I was at my good friend Michael Martinaz (MM)’s hose on Adelphi Court, Old Bridge. Besides two of them, there was Nicole Adams, MM’s girlfriend. I left his house to go get Valerie, a friend of Nicole. I took MM’s red Mazda Miata 2003. When I was on Ticetown Rd., someone came behind me honking horn and flashing headlights. They were screaming. I could not see who and how many were in the car. I could not see what kind of car it was. I sped up and pulled up near 11 Stratford Dr. I rolled down my window a little and saw other car right behind my bumper. Five guys got out of the car. I did not know why they came after me. I knew Steven Contreras (SC), Cash Johnson (CJ) and Christian Tinli (CT) from 6th grade; I did not know Christopher Conway (CC) and Julian Daley (JD).
CK: Did you say anything to them?
AM: They started talking. CJ asked me to get out of the car. He asked me why I gave him a finger.
CK: Did you?
I said I am Martino. CC was repeating everything JD was saying. They tried to open my car’s door but it was locked. JD spat on my car. I drove out straight ton Stafford Dr. and turned right on Press Mill Rd. I wound up on a cul de sac. I turned around the car and they were there. A man was walking his dog; he grabbed his dog and rushed across the street. CJ was standing at the curb. Other four were standing blocking me. Nothing was said at this point.
I drove forward, CJ jumped on someone’s lawn. I went up the curb and as I came off, CC threw something on the car. I came off the cul de sac and turned left.
CK: Are you sure it was CC who threw something at your car?
AM: Yes because I saw him, my eyes were in front of his eyes. Thing he threw hit the hood and then windshield. Somehow I made my way to Valley Vale Dr. and got back to MM’s house a little after 12:00 AM. I parked the car in the driveway and told MM about what happened I gave him two names that came to my mind. I knew four of the guys.
MM called CT. I was not on that conversation.
CK: Did MM and CT have relationship?
AM: I did not know that they knew each other. CT was supposed to come to MM’s house but he did not. MM called the cops and we went at 2:00 AM to CT’s home. We got a call from MM’s father that cops had arrived. We knocked on CT’s door, his mother came out. We had conversation with CT. I asked him what was going on. He did not come out because he thought we were going to jump on him. His mother was not there at that time. Nicole was with us. We were back at MM’s house around 2:30 AM because cops had come. There was one officer. MM started talking with him first. Then I talked with him about where I was driving, who threw an object on the car, etc.
CK: How many people you identified to the police?
AM: Four- JD, SC, CT, CJ.
Police officer said he would keep in touch. All friends came to see the damage to the car. CT gave us name of CC. We wanted to go to CC but it was late. I talked to CT to identify CC through Facebook. I matched up CC’s picture from the Facebook.
I gave police a statement I did not give further information or more names to the police. CT had said that he saw three Indian people throw a bottle at the car. I did not have any further contact with any of the defendants.
Witness Michael Martinaz (MM): He was the owner of the damaged car. He talked about how he allowed his friend AM to take his car to fetch his girlfriend’s friend on the night of 6/25/10, how AM did not tell him at first about what happened and the damage to his car. This was contrary to what AM had deposed. He talked about having a conversation with CT. How they went to CT’s home to talk about the damage to the car. It also came out in the cross examination that soon after this incident, in July of 2010, MM was arrested for insurance fraud. His reasoning was that after losing his job, he could not make payments on his sports car which was registered in his father’s name and he did not want his father to know about the situation so he had filed a false claim. He was sentenced to two years’ probation for that crime.
Witness Shanon Andejar (AJ): This is the person who lives on Press Mill Rd. who was walking his dog on the night of 06/25/10. He had witnessed AM driving car in the cul de sac and turning. He had picked up his dog and crossed over to his home on the other side of the road. He saw the defendants coming out of the car and standing at the entrance to the street. His recollection of number of people was at variance with accounts of other witnesses. He said he heard a bang (presumably when an object was thrown at AM’s car) but his back was to the car so he did not know who threw what.
Witness Barbara Anderson (BA): Barbara and her husband were walking with their dog on 6/27/2010 on Press Mill Rd., when they saw the broken solar lantern on the other side of the road which they know belonged to Mr. Collymore since their dog had damaged one of the lanterns on Mr. Collymore’s lawn in the past which she had offered to pay for. They rang the bell of Mr. Collymore’s home, did not get any response so left the lantern and loose pieces on the steps leading to the house. She further stated that as they were returning home, they met Mr. Kollymore to whom they told about the lantern.
She wanted to talk about her conversation with her son (who I later found out in personal conversation was on the Emergency response team that went to assist Divyendu Sinha) but the Defense attorney did not allow her to do so.
Witness Mr. Collymore (CO): This was the gentleman whose lantern was damaged. His recollection of the event was different than his neighbor, Barbara Anderson. He said that he had gone to Philadelphia for the weekend and upon his return on Sunday, he found the broken lantern on the grass near his mailbox.
Witness Salvatore Lopez (SL): He is a friend of the defendants. He verified that JD, CC, CT and SC were at his home on 6/25/10 for three hours and that he went to Grisham School with them (in his own car.) His testimony will continue tomorrow.
Trial Day 4, Friday, April 20, 2012
Following Witnesses took stand and were cross examined.
1. Witness Salvatore Lopez (SL) continued from yesterday
2. Witness Ravi Sinha (RS) Alkabahen’s younger son, age 14
3. Witness Sargent Paul Miller (PM)
Lopez’s Facebook conversations with Julian Daley were discussed. Also he testified about the strength of Julian Daley and Christian Tinli. Both of them could lift 450 lbs. and bench-press 300 lbs. Initially Lopez had lied about this but the prosecutor confronted him with a statement he had given to the police. It seems that this point was made to establish use of deadly force when Christian Tinli punched Divyendu Sinha on the right temple.
In reply to First Assistant Prosecutor. Christopher Kuberiet’s several questions, Ravi described in detail the events of the fateful night of June 15, 2010. When the prosecutor asked him how do you remember June 15, 2010 (a standard question asked to almost all witnesses), his answer was – it was the worst day of my life because my father was killed. He described how the attackers came, how first only one person came to them and punched Divyendubhai, how he ran back to where other three guys were standing, then, how they all came back and punched and kicked Divyendubhai and also himself. How he fell to the ground and his glasses were thrown a distance, how he momentarily passed out from a kick in the back of his head, how he saw his father slumped and how his speech was slurred. He mentioned how he called his friends’ father, a doctor living close by for help, how he called 911. An audio tape of 911 call was played for the jury. He also identified the defendant’s car as a dark sedan.
To a question, if he tried to run away from the assailants, he said, not with my parents and brother being there.
Ravi was composed and articulate. He stood his ground against the defense lawyer’s barrage of questions and imputations. Defense lawyer tried to emphasize that in the dark of the night, he could not have seen things clearly, but Ravi countered it by pointing out that there were street lights where the assault occurred.
He was followed by Sargent Paul Miller, the Middlesex County detective who investigated the case from the beginning and who arrested the defendants. He described the steps that he took to investigate the crime and apprehend the culprits. He detailed how he went to the homes of Steven Contreras, Julian Daley, Christopher Conway and Christian Tinli to get the information. He talked about how he and Detective Greg Morris brought in Steven Contreras to the Police headquarters as a witness on 6/26/2010, how they brought him back for more questioning on 6/30/2010, now as a suspect and how they arrested him from his work place on July 1, 2010. Mr. Miller also talked about information gathered on Christian Tinli and his arrest form his workplace (Same as that of Steven Contreras). He played audio tape of Contreras’s first statement to the police and showed surveillance video from Wendy’s for the night of 06/25/10.
Paul Miller’s testimony will continue on Tuesday. Prosecution will screen a video statement of Steven Contreras, where he implicates the four defendants.
Trial Day 5, Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Witness Sargent Paul Miller’s testimony and cross examination continued throughout the day.
One hour long Videotaped statement of the defendant Steven Contreras (SC) was played for the Jury.
The video tape showed a relaxed SC accompanied by his father. He was read his rights. SC described at length chronology of events on the night of June 25, 2010. Starting with him going to CJ’s home at 2:00 PM, then picking up JD and going to SL’s place at 4:00 PM, friends gathering there and staying there till 8:30 PM, then someone buying malt liquor for them at Ticetown Liquors before they proceeded to Grisham School to drink. SC did not drink. He was the driver of the car. They proceeded to Wendy’s, stayed there for about an hour. SC wanted to return home. On the road, he was cut off by a red car so he got angry and he beeped at the other car. Everyone in his car got heated and were looking for a fight. JD was buzzed but not drunk. CJ was fine. CC was perhaps the most affected- he kept talking.
SC kept beeping; JD and CC kept saying pull over, pull over and pop off (carry on verbal argument.) He followed the car to Stratford Dr. and got out of the car with others. JD confronted the driver (AM) for the obscene gesture but CT had gone to the car and realized that the driver was a friend. CC faked jumping the driver from outside the car. Then AM took off. JD said he knew exactly where the car had gone, we followed, I saw the car and passed it and then turned around. It was a dead end, I parked the car. As the other car was coming out from the dead end, JD threw something at the car which shattered the windshield.
PM: Did you block the entrance to the dead end street? SC: Yes.
PM: You blocked the entrance so your friends can beat the s**t out of AM? SC: Yes.
Then someone called CT and he goes- it is my friend’s car. He is saying sorry on the phone. We guys are still heated up. We drove up to Nathan; JD said let us pop someone up. I see some kids. CC says let us go see these kids. I turn the car. I see two friends near front porch of Dan’s home. I said let us go meet Dan. They said no, let us go see kids. I pull over the car near the guard rail. We all get out. We crossed the street. I said I do not feel good about this. I went to the car, started the car. I could not see them; I went to the corner (drove the car) and turned my lights off. At that time they were already with the kids. I saw JD’s white shorts. CT had taken his shirt off in the car. I saw JD jump (because of his white shorts) so he must have punched the guy.
SC also surmised that JD and CT attacked the man (Divyendu Sinha.) CJ smashed the little kid (Ravi Sinha.) CC punched some other person (Ashish Sinha.)
One of the guys had said, there are three dudes and a chick. I heard the woman screaming No, NO, Stop. That changed the whole thing for me.
Then they came back running. They climbed in the car and said go, go go.
At this point, SC described how JD and CC were boasting about the assault and how CJ kept saying that he has smashed a kid’s glasses off. How CT kept saying how his little finger hurt. JD told everyone not to say a word about this to anyone. They were all laughing. Then SC dropped everyone at their homes.
Later JD contacted him by phone/text telling the cop was at his home and he had told the cop that he was at Wendy’s and then came home. He asked SC to use the same story.
After the video was played, Sargent Paul Miller (PM) took the stand. First Assistant Public Prosecutor, Christopher Kuberiet (CK) went over several evidences, including the damaged solar lantern that was thrown at the car, cell phones and computers of the defendants that were seized from their home, photographs of the crime scene, etc.
PM described the process followed to get an arrest warrant, search warrant and then permission to study and analyze the seized computers and cell phones. How the records were obtained from the phone companies and Facebook as well as a surveillance tape from the Wendy’s. He meticulously laid down the framework of investigation that resulted in the arrest of the five defendants.
Then Defense Attorney, HA started PM’s cross examination. He challenged PM’s statement that there were inconsistencies between SC’s statement on June 26, 2010 and June 30, 2010. He harped on almost every line of PM’s video interview of SC trying to prove that SC was consistent and truthful, that PM trapped his client that though PM knew that SC was suspect from the beginning he didn’t tell him so on June 26 to win his confidence. He further stressed that the investigators were allowed to lie legally and implied that that is what PM did.
His line by line interrogation of PM gave impression that instead of putting his own client on the stand, he was achieving the same by having PM confirm every statement of SC on the stand. He was selective in picking the liens from the statement and he would not let PM refer to the context. There were many tense moments and testy exchanges between HA and PM and between HA and CK. There were several sidebars (where the judge calls both the lawyers on the side and confers with them.)
The cross examination did not finish today. It will resume tomorrow, April 25.
We know that the whole society, Indian Americans as well as Americans are with her in her quest for justice. Please also visit our web site www.divyendusinha.com; you may also leave your thoughts there.
You may also see newspaper reports at: http://www.nj.com/news/ search for Divyendu or Sinha.
Please attend the trial to show your support, forward this to your contacts and encourage them to attend the trial too.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA)
Indian American Defense League (IADL)
Blog at <http://vicharak1.wordpress.com/>, Twitter at<http://twitter.com/#!/vicharak1>
Disclaimer: This is a synopsis of court hearing based on notes taken by me. Not all communications are captured and while I attempt to be as accurate as possible, there may be legal points that could have been missed or misinterpreted.- Gaurang
Court Address, Directions and Parking Information:
Middlesex County Superior Court
56 Paterson Street, Fifth Floor (Judge Ferencz’s Court Room)
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-2014
Click for Directions
The court is on the fifth floor. Look for the Judge Bradley Ferencz’s court room (Go to the Right from the elevator).
Paid Parking (very reasonable rates) is available at several locations.
Ferren Deck on Church Street is most convenient, as you can access the court house by following signs (third floor) from the parking deck itself.
For GPS and MapQuest directions to Ferren Deck, use
180 Church Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 or click here.
(If you are coming off Rte. 18 and going South on Rte. 27, Turn left at light for Nelson St., then first right on Church St. Go through one traffic light and one stop sign and turn right into Ferren Deck parking. Access to the Court House is from the third floor with clear signage.)
On street parking with meters is available but very difficult to find. For free on street parking, one has to walk several blocks; it is generally available on side streets off Livingston Ave., west of Suydam Street (15-20 minutes’ walk).
If you care coming by train (NJ transit), it is only five minute walk from the New Brunswick station. (Across Rte. 27/French St., enter Feren Mall and go to third floor, follow signs for Middlesex Superior Court.)