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Trial Of Janitor Accused Of Stabbing To Death Chatham, N.J. Priest Opens

Prosecutor: Jose Feliciano Stabbed Father Edward Hinds 32 Times
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Chatham, N.J. priest murdered trial

Prosecutors say this picture shows a cell phone that belonged to murdered Father Edward Hinds. (Photo: Morris County Prosecutor’s Officer))

Christine Sloan thumbnail Christine Sloan
Emmy-award winning journalist Christine Sloan joined CBS 2 News in...
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MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It was a murder that shocked a New Jersey community two years ago.  A priest was stabbed 32 times inside the rectory of a church.

Now, the church’s janitor is standing trial.

On a chilling call to 9-1-1 you can hear Father Edward Hinds struggling, trying to get help, as prosecutors said Jose Feliciano, the man charged with his murder, stabs him over and over again in the rectory of St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Chatham.

“The 9-1-1 call made by Father Hinds…in the middle of being stabbed to death by Mr. Feliciano,” Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi said.

But the dispatcher calls back, first getting voice mail and then Feliciano on the phone.

Feliciano: “Hello.”

Dispatcher: “This is the state police. You called 9-1-1. Do you have an emergency?”

Feliciano: “No, we don’t, thank you.”

Father Hinds: “Yes, we do.”

Dispatcher: “No?”

Feliciano: “Hello, no, thank you.”

Prosecutors said Feliciano killed Father Hinds because the priest was about to fire him. Then, prosecutors added, Feliciano packed the murder weapon, bloody rags and Father Hinds’ cell phone and dumped it in a trash can in a park across from his Pennsylvania home. Father Hinds’ body was found 14 hours after the murder. A witness said Feliciano came back then and pretended to perform CPR on the priest’s lifeless body in front of police.

Prosecutors said Feliciano made one mistake — crushing the cell phone.

“When he did that it caused the phone to malfunction by contacting Father Ed’s contact list. It is the miracle no one intended of this case,” Bianchi said.

That’s how police descended upon Feliciano’s home. Feliciano’s attorney doesn’t deny his client killed the priest, but said it wasn’t murder; it was a crime of passion.

“Because of the price he made Mr. Feliciano pay… for the things he made Mr. Feliciano do,” the defendant’s attorney said.

If he’s found guilty, Feliciano faces life without the possibility of parole.

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