Thursday, December 28, 2006

An end to a sordid mess

The New Jersey Appellate Division has affirmed Rabbi Fred Neulander's life sentence, twelve years after Carol Neulander was found bludgeoned to death. The opinion is legally uninteresting because this was a very clean trial, but the Court recites the facts in a literate and novelistic way.

In March or April 1994, defendant asked Jenoff if he would "kill for the State of Israel." Jenoff answered that he would. Jenoff explained that defendant became the most important person in his life, other than his own son. When Jenoff thanked defendant for "everything . . . he was doing" for him, defendant responded, "maybe some day you could do a favor for me." Jenoff told defendant he would do anything he asked.

In late April 1994, defendant again raised the topic of Israel and told Jenoff that an evil "enemy to the State of Israel" lived in Cherry Hill. Defendant explained that this person was "so bad" and should be "killed." A week later, in early May 1994, they again discussed this "enemy of Israel," at which time defendant looked at Jenoff and asked if he was "man enough to kill" the enemy. Defendant grabbed Jenoff's elbow and asked, "am I talking to the right person?" Jenoff stated that he was scared, but said "yes, Rabbi." Defendant then drove Jenoff to his home and said the person he wanted him to kill was his wife, Carol.

I was in law school at the time of Rabbi Neulander's first trial. The campus was only a few blocks away from the Courthouse, and my trial ad class took place in the Courthouse itself after hours. One of my teachers was a former prosecutor in Camden County, and was the local commentator for Court TV's coverage. I know every one of these names, and I have met some of them at law school functions. I don't say this to boast, but rather to emphasize that I know this case well.

The first jury was out maybe four hours when they sent a message to the Judge that they were hopelessly deadlocked and wanted to know how much longer they would have to pretend to deliberate. There was improper jury contact by the press; and a most eloquent plea for mercy during the penalty phase.

After twelve year, I am glad that it has come to an end. In the final analysis, he was really just another greedy philanderer, albeit one with money and degrees. Every time someone does something stupid in the name of love (or sex), one of my coworkers just rolls his eyes and says "Mr. Dick is a godless pig."

A godless pig- that's all the Rabbi is. Good riddance.