Mates, Neighborhood ‘Astonished’ as Choose Accepts 15-Yr Plea Deal in Moussa Fofana Homicide


A decide accepted a 15-year-plea deal for Yohan Hernandez in 2021 homicide of Columbia Excessive College scholar Moussa Fofana, in a listening to on the Essex County Courthouse in Newark on Thursday morning.

Hernandez appeared in court docket earlier than Choose Ronald Wigler, in response to stories. Earlier than the plea deal was accepted, Moussa’s mom Hawa and father Yasshe begged Wigler to not settle for the plea, and requested for a sentence of 30 years.

Referring to Hernandez, Hawa Fofana mentioned, “He and his group of buddies…determined to come back over there and take the regulation into their very own arms. That’s homicide,” in response to an ABC7 Information report. 

“A household ought to by no means ever equate a quantity to the worth of their cherished one,” Wigler mentioned.

“The decide’s feedback had been very disappointing,” mentioned Fred Profeta, an lawyer and former Mayor of Maplewood who has been actively advocating for a powerful sentence within the case. “He made no try and justify the brevity of the sentence. It’s simply one other horrible instance of how one of the best justice system on the planet can fail folks miserably and depart them in agony.”

Hawa Fofana at September 16 rally

Moussa Fofana was 18 years previous when he was shot and killed at Underhill Sports activities Complicated on June 6, 2021.

The teenager’s household and buddies have spoken out in opposition to the plea deal, asserting that Moussa’s mother and father weren’t knowledgeable forward of time nor given the chance to supply any enter.

The neighborhood held a rally final week and began a petition to protest the alleged plea deal.

Profeta, who helped elevate a $50,000 reward within the case, wrote in a letter to Performing Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stevens on Wednesday that he was “astonished” by the reported plea deal. (See Profeta’s full letter to Stevens beneath).

Profeta mentioned he consulted with Asst. Chief Prosecutor Tom Fennelly earlier than and after the arrest and was assured the prosecution would “search a simply sentence.”

He wrote within the letter to Stevens: “Due to this, I used to be astonished to be taught that your workplace has agreed to suggest a 15 12 months sentence in alternate for a responsible plea by Hernandez. I used to be particularly astonished due to the assertion which Hernandez gave to regulation enforcement, admitting to the intentional homicide of Moussa, amounting, in impact, to a confession.”

Profeta continued: “…your workplace raised the truth that Hernandez could be trying to boost a self-defense argument on the alleged grounds that Moussa “took a swing” at Hernandez, inflicting the latter to fireside the deadly bullet. You realize the details of this case, and the regulation, in addition to anybody. We each know that responding to a fist with a bullet doesn’t represent self-defense, as a matter of regulation.”

Alluding to the 2014 homicide of native teen Brendon Tevlin, through which Choose Wigler gave the killer acquired a number of life sentences with out parole, Profeta urged Stevens to rethink the 15-year-plea within the homicide, “…which has introduced such anguish to the cities of Maplewood and South Orange. And, after all, this anguish can’t examine to that skilled by Moussa’s mom, Hawa Fofana, and his complete household. Hawa’s grief is simply magnified by this prosecutorial failure, made worse by the truth that she was by no means consulted by your workplace earlier than you arrived at a take care of Hernandez, although she has been represented by [an] lawyer all through.”

Learn Village Inexperienced’s full protection right here.

Expensive Chief Prosecutor Stephens:

 

I’m a former Mayor of Maplewood. I’m a litigating lawyer licensed to apply in New York. Chances are you’ll know of me by cause of my involvement in establishing a $50,000 reward fund for data resulting in the arrest of Moussa Fofana’s killer. Moussa was a gifted and widespread scholar at Columbia Excessive College, and a pacesetter in his sport of soccer.

 

I write this e-mail letter to protest the 15 12 months proposed sentence for Yohan Hernandez, who has admitted that he deliberately shot and killed Moussa Fofana. The penalty for this mindless crime carries a sentence of 30 years to life in jail, and we discern no official cause why the penalty mustn’t fall inside these parameters.

 

I consulted Assistant Chief Prosecutor Tom Fennelly each earlier than and after the arrest of Hernandez to acquire details about the case. Mr. Fennelly knew of my excessive diploma of curiosity due to the reward effort. He was all the time extraordinarily courteous and useful to me. He knowledgeable me that the prosecutor assigned to this case is Jacqueline Balinkas, whom he described as a “bulldog” and somebody who was sure to hunt a simply sentence for the killer. Due to this, I used to be astonished to be taught that your workplace has agreed to suggest a 15 12 months sentence in alternate for a responsible plea by Hernandez. I used to be particularly astonished due to the assertion which Hernandez gave to regulation enforcement, admitting to the intentional homicide of Moussa, amounting, in impact, to a confession.

 

Richard Pompelio, the victims’ rights lawyer representing Moussa’s mom, Hawa Fofana, has attended two conferences with prosecutors Balinkas and Fennelly and others to debate your proposed plea deal. You attended the primary assembly. I perceive that your workplace first tried to justify the proposed sentence on the grounds that “juries are unpredictable.” True sufficient, however suffice it to say that any powerful prosecutor, armed with Hernandez’s confession of intentional homicide, ought to be unafraid to place that evaluation to the check.

 

Subsequent, your workplace raised the truth that Hernandez could be trying to boost a self-defense argument on the alleged grounds that Moussa “took a swing” at Hernandez, inflicting the latter to fireside the deadly bullet. You realize the details of this case, and the regulation, in addition to anybody. We each know that responding to a fist with a bullet doesn’t represent self-defense, as a matter of regulation.

 

The neighborhood of Maplewood and South Orange is outraged by the 15 12 months proposed sentence. I’m certain that you’ve got seen the press protection within the Star Ledger and different media sources. Our protest at Maplewood City Corridor was effectively coated by the New York tv networks. We have now circulated a “Justice for Moussa” petition, starting on September 13, and that petition has already garnered 1,361 signatures as of this writing. You possibly can view the petition on my Fb web page, and a printed copy of the signatures as much as two days in the past is connected.

 

This case is assigned to Choose Ronald Wigler. You little doubt keep in mind the case arising out of the killing of Brendan Tevlin in 2016. That case was additionally assigned to Choose Wigler. Tevlin was shot on Northfield Avenue in West Orange, by a stranger. As on this case, Tevlin’s killing was a mindless act of intentional homicide. And like Hernandez, Tevlin’s killer confessed to the crime. However not like the moment case, that killer acquired a number of sentences of life with out parole. He was described by Choose Wigler as a “monster” and an “animal”, deserving to die in jail. How are you going to or another competent lawyer distinguish these two circumstances to the extent of justifying the disparity within the sentences which might happen in case your advice is accepted?

I urge you to rethink your meant advice of solely 15 years for Moussa”s horrific homicide, which has introduced such anguish to the cities of Maplewood and South Orange. And, after all, this anguish can’t examine to that skilled by Moussa’s mom, Hawa Fofana, and his complete household. Hawa grief is simply magnified by this prosecutorial failure, made worse by the truth that she was by no means consulted by your workplace earlier than you arrived at a take care of Hernandez, although she has been represented by lawyer Pompelio all through.

 

Thanks in your consideration of this request. The residents of Maplewood and South Orange belief that your common sense will prevail on this matter.

 

Very actually yours,

Fred R. Profeta, Jr.

 



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