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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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Atlantic County murder case headed toward plea bargain

In New Jersey, plea bargaining is common in the criminal court system. The great majority of criminal cases handled in New Jersey superior courts are resolved by a pre-trial plea agreement. This includes homicide cases where prosecutors sometimes plea bargain a murder charge to a less serious homicide offense such as aggravated manslaughter or reckless manslaughter. This seem to be the path an Atlantic County murder case is now taking after a murder conviction was overturned on appeal. Louis Williams, a 38 year old Atlantic City man was convicted in 2009 of murdering Delrico Herring in an Egg Harbor Township driveway. In May, 2012, a New Jersey appellate court overturned the conviction because the jury was not properly instructed when two jurors had to be replaced. The court ordered a new trial. Plea negotiations are ongoing between the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the attorney for Louis Williams.

In 2009, Williams was sentenced to 65 years in prison for murder and an additional 10 years for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Williams allegedly killed Herring because the victim shorted him in a drug deal. Williams has an extensive criminal record and involvement with the bloods gang.

In New Jersey, a person is guilty of criminal homicide if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly or, under circumstances set forth in the criminal code, causes the death of another human being. Murder is a crime of the first degree and requires the offender to be sentenced to a specific term of years which shall be between 30 years and life in prison, of which the person shall serve 30 years before being eligible for parole. Aggravated manslaughter is a less serious type of homicide. Aggravated manslaughter is a first degree crime and requires a term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years. Manslaughter is a second degree crime and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in jail.

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