US

4 suspects in NJ mall carjacking plead not guilty

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Four men charged in the fatal carjacking of a young lawyer outside an upscale New Jersey mall pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony murder and other charges.

Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington, and Newark residents Karif Ford, 31, Basim Henry, 32, and Kevin Roberts, 33, are accused in the Dec. 15 carjacking and killing of Dustin Friedland outside The Mall at Short Hills.

The four men were arraigned Wednesday on charges of murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. A state Superior Court judge in Newark continued their bail at $2 million each. The four have been in custody since their arrests about a week after the shooting.

The defendants said little at the hearing, speaking only when the judge asked them questions. Their pleas were entered by their court-appointed attorneys. Friedland, a 30-year-old lawyer from Hoboken, was killed while returning to his car in the mall parking garage with his wife after a shopping trip, authorities said. The carjackers confronted the couple and Friedland was shot in the head, authorities said. His wife was unharmed.

The assailants drove off in the couple's silver Range Rover, which was found the next morning in Newark, about 10 miles from Short Hills. Prosecutors have said the couple was targeted solely because of the make of their vehicle.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said the "sheer senselessness" of the crime outraged residents and led to tips pouring in from across Essex County, whose borders encompass crime-plagued Newark to the east and Short Hills and other affluent suburbs to the west.

Several family members and friends of the defendants filled several rows of the courtroom. It did not appear that Friedland's widow or other members of his family attended the hearing.

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