This week there are three trial dates: April 17, 19 and 20 (Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday).
Next week Trial dates are: April 24, 25, 26, and 27 (Tuesday to Friday.)
Time is from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM with one hour lunch break, usually from 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM. If you plan to attend, either arrive by 8:45 AM or 1:15 PM at court room #501.
April 16, 2012Dear Supporters of Sinha Family and Community Members:
Namaste. As mentioned in the previous update, after a long wait of almost 22 months first trial in Dr. Divyendu Sinha’s murder case started on Friday, April 13 at 11:00 AM. First day ended at 4:00 PM. We had good community support with 20 people filling up two front benches.
The attack on the Sinha family occurred on the night of June 25, 2010 around 11:20 PM. Dr. Sinha died of head injuries on June 28.
Attackers who were indicted by a Grand Jury are: Steven Contreras 18, Cash Q. Johnson, 18, Christian M. Tinli, 19, Christopher Conway, 18, and Julian C. Daley, 17.
While Steven Contreras is being tried separately, trial of the remaining four defendants will tentatively start on July 10.
Dr. Divyendu Sinha (1961-2010)
Case is heard in the Middlesex County Superior Court of Ho. Judge Bradley Ferencz (BF).
For the State: Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet (CK).
Defense Attorney: Hassen Abdellah (HA).
State vs. Steven Contreras
Prosecutor File #2010-2581
There were three components of the first day of the trial of Steven Contreras, driver of the car that took the four assailants to and from the scene of murderous attack on Divyendubhai.
- Opening Statement by the Middlesex County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Kuberiet (CK).
- Opening Statement by the Defense Attorney, Hassen Abdellah (HA).
- Testimony and cross examination of Alkabahen Sinha, wife of late Divyendu Sinha.
Here is a brief summary:
Opening Statement by Christopher Kuberiet (CK):
Steven Contreras (SC) and his accomplices’ first victim was Anthony Martina who car was chased into a cul-de-sac because he allegedly cut them off on the road.
SC assisted and allowed the others to attack Dr. Sinha.
SC heard the screams but neither did ne intervene, nor did he call for help (Police, 911).
SC neither respects human life nor the rule of law. At the end of this case, you (jury) will find him guilty of homicide.
The crime occurred in front of 6 Fela Dr., Old Bridge (Note: Sinhas live at 25 Fela Dr.)
SC made a choice to murder Dr. Sinha.
SC chose to associate with and co-conspire with the other defendants.
SC chose to stop his car, chose to allow others to leave the car.
SC chose to stand by and watch.
SC chose to not assist the Sinha family.
SC hindered police investigation.
SC deleted text messages.
SC chose to ignore Alka Sinha’s screams for help.
To the Jury: Your job is to look at the facts and find just cause by application of Law, as will be explained by the Judge, Ferencz.
You are sworn to be fair and just in application of Law to both parties, without bias, prejudice or emotion and beyond reasonable doubt.
Here, Mr. Kuberiet gave short life sketch of Divyendu Sinha since his arrival in USA in 1982.
- Divyendu Sinha went for a walk with his family as many of us do; a walk from which, he never came home.
- SC went to Wendy’s with Daley, Jonson, Tinli and Daley’s girlfriend, Casey Raymond.
- Around 11:00 PM, SC, Daley, Johnson, Tinli and Conway left Wendy’s with SC driving.
- They were allegedly cut off by Anthony Martino, they gave chase but Martino managed to speed away.
- Julian Daley was giving instructions to SC as he continued the chase. They cornered Martino in a cul-de-sac at Press Mill Dr. SC blocked the exit with his car. Still Martino was able to escape. One of the defendants picked up a solar powered light fixture from a nearby lawn and threw at the car. This caused damage worth $2200.
- SC did not go home after this. He did not drop off Julian Daley at his house nearby on Morning side Dr.
- They kept driving. Conway points out the Sinhas.
- SC parks the car and turns lights off.
- Julian Daley, Christian Tinli, Cash Johnson and Christopher Conway walk up behind Sinhas. Tinley taps Divyendu Sinha on his shoulder and says, “I want to ask a question.” As Sinha turns around, he throws firs punch on his right temple.
- They attack Divyendu Sinha and his two sons, Ashish (16 years) and Ravi (12 years.) Then they run to the car and SC drives them off.
- Alka Sinha goes in ambulance with Divyendu to Raritan Bay Hospital. They are there at 12:05 AM.
- Dr. Reddy orders Catscan and decides Divyendu Sinha has cerebral Hemorrhage. Divyendu is transferred to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick.
- Dr. Michelle Tinti in the Emergency room decides that Divyendubhai’s condition is worsening.
- On June 28, Doctor Vincent G. declared Divyendu Sinha brain dead.
- Around same time Martino called Old Bridge police to report the incident with SC and others. Old Bridge police had interviewed SC on June 26.
- Old Bridge Police arrested SC on July 1 at 4:00 PM.
- Mr. Kuberiet listed 10 indictments against SC. Some of them are:
- Conspiracy to commit aggravated assault
- Conspiracy to commit riot
- Aggravated assault
- Property Damage
- Hindering apprehension/prosecution of others
- Hindering one’s own apprehension/prosecution
CK listed 34 witnesses whom he plans to call. The list includes doctors who treated Divyendu Sinha, Medical Examiner who performed the autopsy, Police officers and detectives, Mrs. Alka Sinha and Divyendubhai and Alkabahen’s sons, Ashish and Ravi.
CK ended his 50 minute statement asking the Jury to keep open mind, to listen to the witnesses, to evaluate witness credibility and come to court prepared to work and bring logic and not bias, bring intellect and not emotions.
Defense Attorney, Hassen Abdellah (HA)’s Opening Statement:
- Kuberiet has blamed SC for the state of mind and conduct of others (4 defendants.)
- Was SC’s specific intent to murder?
- Did this young man even physically touched Divyendu Sinha or Martino? He was behind the wheel.
- Jury’s intent is to be fair and impartial.
- SC did not share state of mind or intention of four defendants. He did not share same criminal purpose. There is no proof whatsoever.
- Weigh police witness’s credibility like any other witness’s.
- Those police officers were not there; they did not know SC’s state of mind.
- SC identified the people in his car.
- Mere presence at the scene of crime is not culpable.
- Weigh quantity vs. quality of the evidence. Look at the totality of the circumstances.
- Pay attention to text messages. How many times is SC mentioned?
- SC is not a murderer. He did not want anyone to engage in the murder.
HA finished his statement in 11 minutes.
Mrs. Alka Sinha on the Witness stand:
Alkabahen was the first witness for the State.
Dr. Divyendu & Mrs. Alka Sinha
Mrs. Alka Sinha testifying- Photo Courtesy Jerry McCrea, The Star Ledger
- Mr. Kuberiet asked at length questions about Alkabahen’s age, education, when married, where did Divyendubhai worked, what he did at his work, his commute time, his time at home, etc.
- Alkabahen holds a M.S. in Computer Science. They had been married for 20 years; Divyendubhai worked as a manager in imaging division of Siemens in Tarrytown, NY, a 70 miles, one way commute. He would come home around 7:30 PM and spend the time with the family.
- To a question, how would she describe June 25, 2010, she said that it was the worst day of her life.
- Next set of questions was about their movement on that fateful night. They left home at 11:00 PM for a walk. CK asked about relative positions of all four members of the family; i.e., whether they were in one line or behind each other, in what group formation, distance between each of them, etc.
- Alkabahen was asked as to what they were taking while on the walk. It was a typical talk about upcoming barbeque and younger son Ravi’s robotics summer class in which he wanted help form his father.
- Then, CK asked Alkabahen to narrate the minutes before the attack, attack and minutes after the attack.
- They were on their return leg, when they heard footsteps following them, which was quite unusual. They decided to walk faster to their home (only a few hundred feet away.) Then one of the assailants taped Divyendubhai on the shoulder and said, “I want to ask you a question.” As Divyendubhai turned around that person (later identified as Christian Tinli) punched him above his right ear. Divyendubhai moved with the force and then all of them started throwing punches and kicking. They punched Ashish and Ravi and went around taking turns. Alkabahen started screaming for help. By now Divyendubhai was lying on the grass at 6 Fela Dr. trying to protect his head with his forearm. He asked them why they were beating him. Suddenly the attackers realized that the family they had attacked was neighbors to a fried of theirs. So they all ran to a dark color car (that of SC) which was parked at the corner of Fela and Nathan. There was joy of accomplishment as they ran towards the car.
- Alkabahen and Ashish supported Divyendubhai as they wanted to reach their home but after only a few steps, Divyendubhai was limping on the left side and could not walk further; Ravi was complaining of dizziness. Alkabahen set down on the curb at the corner of Fela and Raven with Divyendubhai’s head in her lap. He was complaining that his head was hurting and he asked Alkabahen to take him home. Ashish, the elder son called their next door neighbor’s elder son, Brian Sousso, and 911. Brian came and called a neighborhood doctor, Jamey Vuy (name not clear). Dr. J. brought water and juice for Divyendubhai but he could not drink. Dr. J. put his jacket around Divyendubhai to keep him warm.
- Then the police and ambulance came. They decided to take Divyendubhai to Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge which was the nearest facility. Alkabahen arranged for Ravi to be taken care of by wife of Dr. J. and she asked Brian to take Ashish to a hospital for treatment of cuts and bruises on his face. Alkabahen accompanied Divyendubhai to the hospital.
- Time elapsed between the attack and reaching hospital was about 20 minutes. At the hospital, initially Divyendubhai was able to describe the attack, but soon his response time started getting longer. He could not move his limbs on the left and then on the right upon doctor’s instructions. His speech was not clear. Raritan Bay Medical Center does not have a trauma center so Divyendubhai was transferred to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital (RWJ) in New Brunswick around 3:00/3:30 AM. Alkabahen was waiting outside in the emergency room for 30 to 45 minutes while Divyendubhai was inside. When she saw him, he could not communicate and he could not see her. He was (close to) brain dead. He was transferred to ICU room.
- To a question from Mr. Kuberiet, Alkabahen said that Divyendubhai never left RWJ and he never came back to his home from that walk.
- While at the hospital for three days (Divyendubhai was declared brain dead on June 28 early morning.). Alkabahen did speak to Detective Morris and Paul Miller. Alkabahen did not give a statement to the police until July 10, 2010 as she was not in a position to do so.
- To another question, she replied that they had never known the assailants and that there was no bad blood between them and her family. She also said that they did not fight back when the guys attacked them.
- After her deposition, Mr. Kuberiet showed her several aerial photos of the crime scene and neighborhood which she identified and signed so that these could be introduced as exhibits in the trial.
- Defense Attorney HA asked only a couple of questions mainly insisting that the photos she had identified were taken in day light (presumably to stress that the crime took place at night.)
Alkabahen was on the stand for 90 minutes. She faced the reliving of the painful and horrendous memory with courage and bravery. She was composed most of the time, though she did breakdown a couple of times, which is but natural. The Judge called it a day at the end of Alkabahen’s testimony.
We know that the whole society, Indian Americans as well as Americans are with her in her quest for justice. Please also visit our web site www.divyendusinha.com; you may also leave your thoughts there.
You may also see newspaper reports at: http://www.nj.com/news/index.
Please forward this to your contacts and encourage them to attend the trial.
Gaurang G. Vaishnav
Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA)
Indian American Defense League (ADL)
Court Address, Directions and Parking Information:
Middlesex County Superior Court
56 Paterson Street, Fifth Floor (Judge Ferencz’s Court Room)
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-2014
The court is on the fifth floor. Look for the Judge Bradley Ferencz’s court room (Go to the Right from the elevator).
Paid Parking (very reasonable rates) is available at several locations.
Ferren Deck on Church Street is most convenient, as you can access the court house by following signs (third floor) from the parking deck itself.
For GPS and MapQuest
180 Church Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 or click here.
(If you are coming off Rte. 18 and going South on Rte. 27, Turn left at light for Nelson St., then first right on Church St. Go through one traffic light and one stop sign and turn right into Ferren Deck parking. Access to the Court House is from the third floor with clear signage.)
On street parking with meters is available but very difficult to find. For free on street parking, one has to walk several blocks; it is generally available on side streets off Livingston Ave., west of Suydam street (15-20 minutes walk).
If you care coming by train (NJ transit), it is only five minute walk from the New Brunswick station. (Across Rte. 27/French St., enter Feren Mall and go to third floor, follow signs for Middlesex Superior Court.)
Disclaimer: This is a synopsis of court hearing based on notes taken by me. Not all communications are captured and while I attempt to be as accurate as possible, there may be legal points that could have been missed or misinterpreted.- Gaurang