NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The man accused of punching and kicking a mother in her Millburn. N.J., home pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple charges – including attempted murder – and was ordered held on $750,000 bail.
The brutal attack and robbery were captured on nanny cam.
Shawn Custis, 42, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of attempted murder, robbery, burglary and child endangerment.
He was brought into court handcuffed and wearing a light blue button-down shirt, and he kept his head down as Essex County Superior Court Judge Peter Vazquez questioned him, muttering simple replies.
Custis, who smirked as sheriff’s officers later hauled him back to jail, has 12 prior criminal convictions.
On Tuesday night, CBS 2’s Don Champion confirmed a disturbing attack in Custis’ past. Court records show Custis pleaded guilty in an eerily similar case in 1991 when he was 20 years old. Custis faced robbery and aggravated assault charges in a Burlington County home burglary.
Published reports at the time said Custis broke into a house, beat a woman and then pushed her and her 18-month-old daughter down a stairwell.
In the incident on June 21, authorities said Custis broke into a home in Millburn and beat a mother of two for nearly 10 minutes before taking off with some jewelry, including the woman’s wedding ring.
In the nanny cam video, a man can be seen bursting into the home and rushing at the woman, punching and kicking her repeatedly and throwing her down the stairs while her 3-year-old daughter watched from a couch – helpless as she clutched a blanket.
Prosecutors said the evidence they have on tape is overwhelming and led to Custis’ arrest.
“The video shows what violent crime looks like,” Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said. “We have a tremendous amount of violent crime in Essex County. We have a tremendous amount in the state and in the country. But when people in the community see what it really looks like, I think that’s why we got the outpouring of assistance.”
The victim of the June 21 attack recently spoke with CBS 2’s Champion.
“He brutally beat me in front of my daughter she watched the whole thing,” said the victim, who did not want to be identified.
Millburn police Capt. Michael Palardy called the attack “one of the most brutal things I’ve seen in 25 years.”
“This sickened me,” he said. “I’m surprised she doesn’t have any broken bones.”
Sources said the suspect was on the run for a week, hiding out with two different girlfriends. Detectives pinged his cellphone to an apartment on Tenth Avenue in the Inwood section of Manhattan, where he was arrested. Sources said he was hanging out with a girlfriend, but investigators
CBS 2’s Christine Sloan confronted Custis about the attack. He had no comment, but the daughter of one of his girlfriends had plenty to say.
“First impression, I liked him. But then as I started getting to know him, I didn’t like him,” she said.
Sources said when Custis was arrested, he was hiding out with another girlfriend. But investigators only provided basic details about the arrest.
“He was in the lobby of an apartment building on the 3000 block of Tenth Avenue, when the FBI agents and Essex County prosecutors’ detectives were alerted to that location through interviews and street sources,” said Essex County Prosecutor’s office Chief of Detectives Anthony Ambrose.
Investigators would not reveal why the Millburn house was targeted, but said Custis broke in.
The victim’s 18-month-old child was sleeping upstairs on the second floor at the time of the attack. The suspect could be seen on the tape going upstairs to get something.
CSB 2 reached out to Custis’ court-appointed attorney, but did not immediately hear back.
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