An aggravated assault resulting in death is often considered one of the most heinous violent crimes that a person can commit. Due to this, those convicted of murder charges stemming from an aggravated assault are often subject to the most serious penalties in the state. In some states this may include a death sentence. While New Jersey does not have the death penalty, penalties for murder are still extremely serious.
Two New Jersey teenagers are currently on trial for a violent crime that took place in 2010. According to the prosecutor, the men were present when a man from Old Bridge was beaten to death in front of his wife and two sons. According to their criminal defense attorney, while the men were present at the time of the violent crime, the men are not murderers and did not participate in the tragic and ultimately fatal attack.
The men and two others allegedly beat a man to death in an apparent ambush. The man suffered fatal injuries and died in a local hospital three days after the altercation. The other men who participated in the alleged attack have accepted plea agreements with the prosecutor's office. In exchange for testifying against the two young men currently on trial, the three other suspects are receiving reduced sentences.
Whenever prosecutors exchange favors for testimony, the defense has legitimate grounds for challenging the credibility of the witnesses. In cases where favors are exchanged for testimony, the words of the witness are often tainted by their own personal interest. Depending on the importance of the witness, if a defense attorney can successfully challenge the credibility of the witness it may result in an acquittal, if not lesser charges.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "Jurors hear opening arguments in trial of 2 Old Bridge youths for deadly attack in Old Bridge in 2010," Susan Epstein, Aug. 13, 2013