Monday, October 14, 2013

Who killed Dr. Sinha - 2?


In his opening statement, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Kubriet dramatically recalled the brutal event. “Tinli tapped Dr. Sinha on the shoulder and said ‘hey man, I got a question to ask you.’”

“That question came in the form of a punch when Dr. Sinha turned around. Tinli delivered a blow, and then another one,” until Sinha fell to the ground, stated Kubriet. “But that wasn’t good enough. As his motionless body lay there, they continued to kick him,” said the prosecutor.

Tinli’s attorney Joe Mazraani sharply rebuked Kubriet’s opening statement, saying: “If you’re going to believe what the state is telling you, we should close up this courtroom, take these two boys outside and just lynch them up.”

But on the witness stand, Contreras – who allegedly sat in his car during the attack and then drove the get-away car with all of the suspects – said he saw Daley, not Tinli, delivering the blows. Though it was dark, Contreras said Daley was visible because of his white shirt. Several minutes later, Daley ran back to the car with the others and told Contreras to quickly drive away from the scene of the crime.

Contreras also recalled Conway as saying “I never punched a dude so hard.” He testified that Johnson knocked the glasses off of one of Sinha’s sons.

But prosecutors showed a video in court in which Contreras told police he believed Tinli threw the first punch. Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz initially barred the video from being played in the courtroom, saying it would unfairly prejudice the jury, but finally allowed it.

Gaurang Vaishnav, executive vice president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, told India-West that the video clearly implicates all five suspects. Vaishnav has watched the trial closely, attending court every day, and drumming up support within the Indian American community to petition the prosecutor’s office for a fair trial.
“Contreras has been lying through his teeth. He’s a state witness, but clearly he was trying to defend his friends,” stated Vaishnav. “Frankly, I’m no longer confident of a fair verdict. It all depends on the jury. The defense only has to plant doubt in one juror’s mind for the case to be hung,” he said.

NEW BRUNSWICK — Jurors appeared split on whether age played a factor in their decision on Monday to clear Cash Johnson and Christian Tinli in the 2010 death of Divyendu Sinha.
One said the fact the defendants were teens at the time of the attack on the Old Bridge resident garnered sympathy for them, against the instructions of the court, while another said that wasn’t a factor.

“The evidence and the law was what we based we based our decision on,” said Derek, who did not want to be further identified.

“The defendants’ ages were brought up in deliberations,” countered Raymond Waliski of Old Bridge. “However, people had mentioned several times that we’re not allowed to bring up age. It was suggested do not bring up their age, but maybe sympathetically, people did bring up their age.”
Johnson, Tinli and three others charged were 16 or 17 at the time of the incident. All of the accused also are from Old Bridge.

After a six-week trial and six days of deliberations, Johnson and Tinli were convicted of simple assault on Sinha’s sons, Aashish and Ravi, who were 16 and 12 at the time of the incident. Johnson was convicted of an assault on Ravi, while Tinli was convicted of an assault on Aashish.

In addition to murder, the two were cleared of three counts of aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, riot, conspiracy to commit riot, criminal mischief, and two counts of hindering apprehension. They will be sentenced on Oct. 18, along with their three co-defendants, Julian Daley, Christopher Conway and Steven Contreras, all of whom plead guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.

Daley and Conway also plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter and were recommended by the prosecutor to receive respective sentences of 15 and 8 years. Contreras received a recommendation of four years, was cleared of murder and aggravated manslaughter but convicted of aggravated assault, conspiracy and hindering.

Daley, Conway and Contreras testified that as a group, the five teens had been looking “to f--- somebody up.”

The jury’s decision was based on the weight of “beyond a preponderance of a doubt,” Waliski said.
“We had certain members that thought they were guilty of all counts except murder,” he said. “That’s why it took us so long. It either was going to be a hung jury or we were going to give them the minimal amount allowable, simple assault. Twelve people have to agree on what’s going on. It was very difficult for 12 people to come to a consensus that they were guilty for manslaughter, to what degree, with what severity of manslaughter.

“The prosecutor tried to ask how hard was he hit?” Waliski continued. “Nine on a scale of 10, eight on a scale of 10, but that didn’t directly correlate to how hard their minds wanted to hit him. It all went back to the mind. Did these kids really go out there to kill them or did they want to give them bodily harm or did they want to severely hurt them? We weren’t able to read their minds. That was the consensus of the jury.

“A gun would be different. He might have died immediately. A baseball bat, a rock, whatever, but a fist, a jury couldn’t conclude, would exhibit the severity of manslaughter, bodily, severe or reckless.”
Sinha was taking a late-night stroll with his wife and sons on Fella Drive in Old Bridge before they were attacked on June 25, 2010. He died three days later at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. His sons suffered injuries, but his wife, Alka, was not hurt.

During the course of the trial, Alka Sinha had stated outside the courtroom that as a Hindu, she felt like she was being punished for having done something wrong in a past life. She left the courtroom in the midst of the verdict, visibly upset.

“I’ve been praying for the Sinha family since day one,” Tinli said. “I’d feel the same way if that happened to my father.

“I’ve been praying for three years about this, knowing that I’m innocent,” he continued. “I thank God.”

Tinli was defended by North Brunswick-based Joe Mazraani and Johnson by city-based William Fetky. They were prosecuted by Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet.
Johnson said he was thankful for Fetky “saving my life.”

He said, “I’m thankful for my family being behind me and supporting me all the way. I’m blessed.”
After his mother died of pancreatic cancer when he was 4 years old, Johnson and his two older brothers were adopted and raised by his maternal grandparents, Anita and John Roberson.
They were present throughout the trial, along with their daughters, Divyka and Ginger, and several of Tinli’s family members.

“It’s like Mr. Fetky said, there’s no real winners here,” John Roberson said. “For the past three years, a whole lot of families have been suffering, emotionally, financially and everything else. I feel sorry for the lady losing her husband. I’ve been married 48 years. I can imagine.”