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Murder of Local Priest: Many issues for the Lawyers, Judge and Jury

A major murder trial is currently underway in Morris County: that of Jose Feliciano. Feliciano, a former custodian at St. Patrick Church in Chatham, New Jeresey, is charged with with murdering the Rev. Edward HInds, the former pastor. Felciano apparently gave a video-taped confession wherein he admitted to stabbing Hinds during an argument after the priest threatened to fire him for ending a four-year sexual relationship. The prosecution contends that Feliciano stabbed Hinds because Hinds was going to fire him after learning that Feliciano was a fugitive from a 1988 Pennsylvania charge of indecent assault on a 7-year-old girl.

Jury selection began two weeks ago and both sides have submitted to the judge so-called "voire dire" questions to be asked of potential jurors to try and determine any bias or prejudice based upon the many sensitive issues raised by the case, especially religion and sexual orientation. Some examples: "Is there anything about the Catholic Church or Catholic priests that would cause you to not be a fair and impartial juror?"; "Is there anything about the Catholic Church or Catholic priests and the sexual abuse cases that have been reported in recent years that would prevent you from being a fair and impartial juror?" In all there are 53 questions, 30 of which are "standard" and the remainder are specific to the case.

Mr. Felciano is being represented by the Morris County Public Defender's Office. If you are charged with murder in northern new jersey, you need a northern new jersey criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights.

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