In many instances in which a defendant is charged with a serious crime, there will be evidence that may be enough for the State to obtain a conviction. In such instances, a defense attorney will often request that the court instruct the jury regarding any lesser included offenses of the crime with which the defendant is charged, in an attempt to avoid the greater penalty associated with the more serious misconduct. An instruction on lesser included offenses is not always warranted, however, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey case in which the defendant was convicted of murder. If you are charged with a serious crime, it is prudent to speak to a seasoned New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for seeking the best result available under the facts of your case.
Facts and Procedural History
It is reported that the defendant, who worked for the victim, bound and gagged the victim and placed a sponge soaked with ammonia over her nose. He then, along with an accomplice, transported her to a wooded area where he proceeded to dig a hole and bury her. The accomplice testified that the victim was making noises and moving while she was being buried. An autopsy revealed that the victim died of asphyxiation. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including first-degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery.
Allegedly, during the trial, the defendant’s attorney requested a jury instruction on the lesser included offense of aggravated manslaughter to the first-degree murder charge, arguing that the defendant’s acts were reckless rather than intentional. The court denied the request, and the defendant was convicted as charged, after which he appealed.