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Murder in New Jersey

In July 2010, NBCNewYork.com reported that a teenager suspected of beating an immigrant father of four children, while he was sitting in a park in an affluent New Jersey suburb faced manslaughter charges.

The immigrant man, age 47, a native of El Salvador, finished his shift as a cook’s assistant at an Indian restaurant in Summit, New Jersey. The man worked at the restaurant for three years. The man was sitting at a bench in Summit Promenade when the 18-year-old teen beat him.

The teen was with other teenagers at the time. One teenager recorded the attack, while another teenager assisted in the beating. The second attacker, a 17-year-old, was also arrested. The immigrant man was found by police with severe head trauma and was taken to Overlook Hospital in Summit. He did not regain consciousness and died three days after the beating, according to a New Jersey Local News Service. The teens were tracked down by police after the video circulated around Summit area teens.

Manslaughter is a serious charge in New Jersey. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is an intentional killing distinguishable from murder by the existence of adequate provocation. Provocation is adequate if: (1) it was provocation that would arouse sudden and intense passion in the ordinary person, causing him to lose self control, (2) the defendant is in fact provoked, (3) there was no sufficient time between the provocation and killing for a reasonable person to cool, and (4) the defendant in fact does not cool off between the provocation and killing. Words alone are not sufficient provocation for voluntary manslaughter, except when the words carry provocative information. Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser charge than murder.

Some states recognize another type of voluntary manslaughter called, “Imperfect Self Defense”, where a person thinks s/he is being threatened and defends him/herself with deadly force, but the fear is unreasonable. New Jersey does not recognize Imperfect Self Defense.

Involuntary manslaughter is also a lesser crime than first-degree murder. Involuntary manslaughter involves criminal negligence and lacks the intent to kill. A person’s actions are reckless or irresponsible and lead to or cause the death of another person.

Another type of involuntary manslaughter is when a person commits a crime that is not a felony crime, or in the commission of a lawful act involving a risk of injury or death that is done in an unlawful, reckless, or grossly negligent manner.

Manslaughter charges, especially those considered to be gang-related, require the legal representation of highly skilled and competent criminal defense attorneys. A wrongful conviction can have detrimental consequences to a defendant.

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