Short Hills Suspects Arraigned [AUDIO]
The four suspects accused of killing Hoboken attorney Dustin Friedland during a botched carjacking at the Short Hills Mall last month all pleaded not guilty Wednesday during their first appearance in court.
Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, Basim Henry and Kevin Roberts are all being held in lieu of $2 million bail each.
“The next step procedurally in the process is the matter will be presented to an Essex County grand jury, and that will happen in the next several months,” said Essex County chief assistant prosecutor Tom Fennelly during a news conference after the proceeding.
He said, following a thorough investigation, “we’re not going to discuss who the shooter was at this time; however, we are satisfied of the roles each individual played. They’re all charged with the same offense, they all played a role in this crime.”
Fennelly confirmed Dustin Friedland and his wife were entering their car after shopping at the mall, when the husband was confronted by the suspects. They demanded his keys and shot Friedland after a struggle.
“At this point they’re treated like anybody else charged with homicide,” Fennelly said. “They’re being held in the Essex County jail.”
Fennelly wouldn’t say if the defendants were part of a criminal gang, and he indicated no additional arrests are anticipated in the case.
When asked if the suspects could get a fair trial given all the publicity the case has received, Fennelly said all four are presumed innocent.
“They’ve entered not guilty pleas,” Fennelly said, “and they’re all represented by attorneys.”
He stressed that carjackings remain an ongoing problem in Essex County.
“We’re aggressively enforcing the carjacking laws and prosecuting a number of people for carjacking,” Fennelly said.