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Crimes can often be committed by people who were close to their victims. A former Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, police officer entered a plea of not guilty in response to his arraignment for murder charges in a Hackensack courtroom recently. He also faces weapons charges for criminal possession and is accused of hindering apprehension.

The victim in this case was a childhood friend of the defendant. Late last year, the victim was found dead in his home with multiple stab wounds. Prosecutors allege that the accused lashed out at his friend after an intense argument, killing him in the exchange.

Prosecutors feel confident in making this case because the alleged murder weapon was retrieved from the suspect's home. However, the suspect's attorneys have said that they feel that a jury will exonerate their client when all the facts have been presented.

Much has been made of the former policeman's past, including the fact that he was suspended from the police department for not showing up to work. He left the department in 2000 on a disability pension. However, in a criminal law case, character evidence is known to be purely subjective, and defense lawyers can counter this sort of evidence with positive accounts of the defendant's behavior.

Anyone charged with crime deserves a fair trial and should be fully aware of all of their legal rights and options, and that includes prosecutors having to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Past mistakes and indiscretions are not what are on trial.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Former Hasbrouck Heights officer pleads not guilty in murder of childhood friend," Kibret Markos, Sept. 10, 2012

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