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Men Charged in Short Hills Mall Carjacking Death Plead Not Guilty

Four men face murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy and weapons possession charges.

Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, Kevin Roberts and Basim Henry have been charged in the fatal carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills. / Photos: Essex County Prosecutor's Office
Hanif Thompson, Karif Ford, Kevin Roberts and Basim Henry have been charged in the fatal carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills. / Photos: Essex County Prosecutor's Office

The four men charged in connection with the carjacking and murder of Dustin Friedland, 30, pled not guilty in a Newark courtroom Wednesday.

Attorneys for Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington and Karif Ford, 31, Basim Henry, 32, and Kevin Roberts, 33, all of Newark, entered not guilty pleas before Judge Peter J. Vazquez, according a report on nj.com.

All four men have been charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy and weapons possession.

The defendants, who were taken into custody last month, face a maximum penalty of life in prison for their alleged roles in the murder of Friedland at the Short Hills mall on Dec. 15

Friedland was fatally shot when he and his wife were carjacked for their Range Rover after an evening of shopping. Friedland's wife was unharmed.

Thompson, Roberts and Ford were arrested in their New Jersey residences and Henry was arrested at a hotel in Easton, Pa. by federal agents.

Bail was set at $2 million for each defendant by Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin.

Services for Friedland, a Toms River native and Toms River North graduate who lived in Hoboken, were held last month in Lakewood.

The couple's Range Rover was the target—not Friedland—in the incident, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said at a press conference in Newark. Authorities declined to comment which man allegedly pulled the trigger.

The investigation revealed the four men were all in the parking lot the night of the killing with two leaving in the stolen SUV and the other two in the vehicle they arrived in, according to Murray.

The four men were arrested through a "combination of witnesses, statements, technology, old-fashioned police work and putting the pieces together," Murray said.

Lawyer1 January 08, 2014 at 12:31 PM
New Jersey residents need to cut to the chase.....we are left defenseless here on the streets of NJ and subject to this type of criminal activity and worse daily. NJ needs to allow law abiding citizens to protect themselves and family members the police cannot do it. As citizens of NJ Mr. Paul Fishman said we have a right to be safe at home, on the street and while shopping at the Mall. NJ Citizens must have their 2A Rights back and support CC Licensing as the other 48 states do. Stop being targets for these thugs....
Rich January 08, 2014 at 12:45 PM
I hear you.
sal morv January 11, 2014 at 07:27 PM
I'd agree with the other commenters if NJ was in the top 5 of US states with gun murders per capita. However, NJ is Number 46 of 50. The top 6 are Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, Texas -- the gun states. In addition, it is unlikely that most NJyans -- especially those fitting the profile of the poor murder victim -- would pack heat.
Lawyer1 January 13, 2014 at 08:49 AM
sal morv, if you were in his shoes that fateful evening on that dark parking deck with his wife there, you'd be whishing you had the biggest hand cannon you could find......I guarantee it.
sal morv January 13, 2014 at 09:28 AM
Obviously I can't argue with that, Lawyer1. On the other hand, the gun law you are advocating for would make it illegal for cops to stop those four killers walking into the mall with big head canons of their own, times 100. I have no political position on this, but common sense dictates that one compare states where gun carrying is encouraged to those that aren't. And that exercise clearly shows that the more guns, the more innocents killed by accident, and on purpose. Same with US stats vs. other Western countries. I (along w most people) am open to having my mind changed on this, with facts.
Lawyer1 January 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Nothing will change your mind quicker than being targeted by the hold-up men and murderers. Obviously, you or your family members have never been victims of violent crime. but bear in mind, we are defenseless targets here in NJ and that should concern you if nothing else....the police cannot protect you and your loved ones. Politics aside, as Mr. Paul Fishman said, the citizens of New Jersey have a right to be safe at home, on the street and while shopping at the mall....who's going to make you safe ?
J January 16, 2014 at 08:16 AM
sal morv - I actually spent some time looking into the premise that crime rates are higher in states where carrying a concealed weapon is legal and the results of multiple studies are inconclusive (much to my chagrin).

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