Cousin of Slain 7-Year-Old Lunges at Suspect in Court
PATERSON, N.J. (AP) _ Anger at a parolee charged with raping and killing a 7-year-old girl erupted Wednesday with an attempted attack on the man inside a courtroom and protests on the street outside.
A sheriff said he wished he could give the defendant to the protesters to ″let them do justice.″
Conrad Jeffrey is charged with the May 5 killing of Divina Genao, whose body was discovered face down, bound and gagged on a bed in his Passaic boarding house room.
After Jeffrey’s attorney waived his client’s right to a probable cause hearing Wednesday, a man identified as the girl’s cousin leaped over two benches and a 3-foot barrier in an effort to reach the defendant as officers led Jeffrey to a holding area.
Passaic County Sheriff Edwin Englehardt said court officers kept the two apart and the cousin, Rafael Genao, did not touch Jeffrey, 42.
The man carried no weapons and was not charged, Englehardt said.
″They ought to give him a medal,″ Englehardt said outside the courtroom.
Officers blocked about 150 protesters from entering the courthouse. About 40 people had been allowed into the packed courtroom.
Englehardt said he sympathized with Genao and wished he didn’t have to protect Jeffrey.
″He expressed the feelings of everybody in this crowd. He expressed my feeling,″ Englehardt said, calling the slaying the most heinous he had seen in his 19-year career as sheriff.
″I would love to release him (Jeffrey) to this crowd and let them do justice,″ he said.
The public defender’s office, which is handling Jeffrey’s case, would not comment.
Jeffrey is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
He was paroled March 25 after serving 2 1/2 years of a 5-year sentence on a plea bargain in the abduction of a 14-year-old girl at knifepoint in 1990.
The Record of Hackensack reported Wednesday that Jeffrey spent three years in a mental hospital after telling police he killed a woman whose body was found in his room in 1974. A judge later ruled Jeffrey was mentally unfit to stand trial, the newspaper reported.
Judges and prosecutors who dealt subsequently with Jeffrey never knew of the case, The Record said.
Protesters Wednesday demanded to know why Jeffrey had not been jailed longer.
″They had him, they let him out on the street and he went out and committed other crimes,″ Ramon Gill, 67, said in Spanish. ″The authorities need to apply the death penalty because this is an unpardonable crime.″