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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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New Jersey Sees Spike in Number of Hate Crimes Against Muslims

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There has been a significant rise in the total number of hate crimes against Muslims in New Jersey, according to recent crime data released by the NJ State Police. Statistics show that these kinds of hate crimes increased by nearly 70 percent in the United States last year and by more than 250 percent in New Jersey during that same time period.

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the NJ State Police numbers. In the aftermath of the contentious presidential election, several Muslims in New Jersey, New York, and elsewhere in the U.S. have come forward to report being victimized:

·      Azra Baig, a school board candidate in South Brunswick NJ, was the target of vandals who spray-painted graffiti on his campaign lawn signs. The signs were defaced with phrases like “ISIS sympathizer” and “Rag Head.” Baig won his re-election bid for the South Brunswick Board of Education, with the hate crimes being committed the day after the election.

·      Several other campaign lawns signs for Baig were defaced prior to the election. According to law enforcement, the vandals placed the signs near South Brunswick High School between September 26 and October 21.

·      Someone reportedly spray-painted hateful messages calling for assaults against Arabs at Bayonne Muslims, a mosque in Bayonne, New Jersey. The graffiti was left on the mosque’s walls early in the morning so that worshippers would see it.

A major concern of individuals and organizations like the NJ chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) is that the overall number of hate crimes has declined in 2016, with only crimes based on certain religions showing an increase. NJ State Police data indicates that the efforts of law enforcement to crack down on crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual preference have largely worked. In fact, reports of bias crime to New Jersey authorities have been trending downward since 2011 – except when it comes to bias crimes against Muslims. This trend is in stark contrast to national crime reporting statistics, which show that hate crimes across the U.S. increased by seven percent in 2015.

James Sues, the executive director of CAIR-NJ, has asked for NJ police departments and law enforcement agencies to do more to deter people from using hate speech directed against Muslims. Sues said that hate crimes, whether they involve actions or words, are particularly damaging because they “reinforce negative stereotypes and cast a shadow of suspicion and doubt over all Muslims.”

For additional information, read the Amsterdam News article, “Report: Hate Crimes Increase Against Muslims in New Jersey.

If you have been charged with harassment, criminal mischief, or vandalism in Atlantic County, New Jersey, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you fight your criminal charges. Contact us now to schedule a free initial consultation about your case.

 

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