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.
Judge Bradley 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
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)
Blog at <http://vicharak1.wordpress.com/>, Twitter at<http://twitter.com/#!/vicharak1>
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
Click for Directions
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 directions to Ferren Deck, use
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