Four men who were involved in a fatal carjacking in Short Hills, N.J., could face the death penalty if they are charged in federal court.
The incident occurred at Short Hills Mall on Dec. 15.
Thirty-year-old Hoboken lawyer Dustin Friedland and his wife were returning to their Range Rover in the mall parking lot shortly after 9 p.m. when he was approached by two carjackers. Friedland reportedly struggled with the attackers before he was shot in the head.
According to anonymous law enforcement officers, Friedland’s wife was ordered out of the vehicle. One thief drove away in the Range Rover while the other took off in a green Subaru.
The same Subaru had reportedly been circling the mall parking lot just moments earlier.
Friedland was pronounced dead around 11:45 p.m. at Morristown Medical Center. His wife was unharmed in the incident.
Prosecutors add that the couples’ Range Rover was found the next morning in the 200 block of Rennar Avenue in Newark.
Court documents have identified the getaway driver as 32-year-old Basim Henry, and the other men as 29-year-old Hanif Thompson, 31-year-old Karif Ford, and 33-year-old Kevin Roberts.
The green Subaru was later identified as belonging to Henry’s mother.
According to NJ.com, all four men involved have been charged by the Essex County Prosecutor’s office with murder, felony murder carjacking conspiracy and weapons possession.
Henry was also convicted for bank robbery in 2006, and now faces additional charges of violating the conditions of a supervised release allowing him o leave the state.
All four men face life in prison if charged under state law. If charged under federal law, the men could face the death penalty.
NJ.com staff writer Ted Sherman explains:
While no one has yet been prosecuted for carjacking as a capital murder case, the penalties under federal law for taking a vehicle at gunpoint can be far stiffer than state law, leading to longer sentences and no possibility of parole. In the Short Hills mall case, though, the murder of the victim already carries the possibility of life in prison under state law.
The four defendants will be arraigned on Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. before Judge Peter J. Vazquez, reports The Patch. Bail is currently set at $2 million per defendant by Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin.