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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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3 accused of fraudulent gift card use

The Stafford County, New Jersey, sheriff’s office recently announced that three people were arrested and accused of using false gift cards. Their arrests came as they tried to buy multiple cartons of cigarettes with the cards. A convenience store clerk at a local 7-Eleven declined to allow the gift cards presented to be used for one of the purchases.

The clerk refused the tender of the cards partly because the purchaser, although traveling in a car with a local license plate, displayed out of state identification. He summoned a sheriff’s sergeant who, after talking to him, went to another nearby convenience store and saw a similar vehicle parked nearby. Inside the store, he reportedly saw a man who looked like he fit the description of the man who had attempted to make the purchase at the first store. Once again, he was allegedly attempting to buy four cartons of cigarettes using gift cards as payment.

Another similar purchase had already been made by another person using the phony gift cards, according to authorities. Two men and a woman were then accused of a crime. The arresting officer claimed to have found a number of cartons of cigarettes in the group’s car and believed that they were intending to sell the cigarettes elsewhere at a later time.

Charges lodged included credit card fraud, conspiracy and racketeering. Those arrested were 18, 37, and 39 years old and all residents of New Jersey. The sheriff’s office did not state where the three people were believed to have obtained the gift cards or what proof, if any, there was that they knew that the gift cards were fraudulent. Purchasing cigarettes with gift cards, of course, is certainly no crime unless you know that the cards are not legitimate. Those accused of a crime are entitled to a presumption of innocence, and the prosecution bears a heavy burden of trying to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt using relevant and admissible evidence.

Source: Fredericksburg.com, “Jersey men charged in gift-card fraud” Keith Epps, Nov. 12, 2013

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