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Sympathy for Accused Priest Killer?

The defense team for alleged priest-killer Jose Feliciano is trying to get sympathy from the jury. Yesteday, Felciano's northern new jersey defense attorneys called as witness a fellow ex-custodian from the church where Feliciano worked. The man, John Bongo, said he was a friend of the accused.

Bongo was fired about one year before Felciano, told by the murder victim, Reverend Edward Hinds, that it had to be done due to budget constraints. Bongo also testified that many parishoners were not overly fond of Hinds, and so were leaving the parish, resulting in the financial problems.

On cross-exam by the State, Bongo said he was unaware of any romantic relationship between Felciano and Hinds. Prior to trial, Bongo told an investigator that had there been any such relationship, he would've known about it.

The defense also called Maris Barrett, another church employee, who testified that she drove Felciano to the Chatham Borough Police to be fingerprinted as required by the Diocese of Patterson for all employees who were to have contact with children. At issue in the case is whether Hinds sent Feliciano's fingerprints to the State Police as required in order to cover up the relationship between he and Feliciano.

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