TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New Jersey state Supreme Court has put the brakes on the parole bid of a man convicted in the 1973 murder of a state trooper.
The justices on Thursday granted the state Attorney General’s request that Sundiata Acoli not be paroled until the court decides whether to hear arguments in his case.READ MORE: Retired FDNY Firefighter Suffering From 9/11-Related Illness In Need Of Lifesaving Bone Marrow Transplant
Acoli, then known as Clark Edward Squire, was convicted in the murder of trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike.
One of Squire’s accomplices was Joanne Chesimard, who also was convicted but escaped from prison and fled to Cuba and has been living under the name Assata Shakur.
Chesimard was found guilty but escaped from prison and eventually fled to Cuba, where she was granted asylum by Fidel Castro. She is now living as Assata Shakur and is the first woman placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.
She was an active and prominent member of the Black Panther Party and later the BLA, which was described as one of the most violent militant organizations of 1970s, officials said. The BLA was responsible for killing more than a dozen police officers in the 1970s and ’80s, said agent Aaron Ford of the FBI’s Newark division.
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Last fall, an appeals court reversed a parole board panel’s decision and ordered Acoli released. The attorney general’s office says the court should have sent Acoli’s case to the full parole board for a rehearing. Acoli remains incarcerated.
According to court documents, Acoli’s gun went off during a struggle with Foerster, who had responded as backup after another officer pulled over the car for a broken tail light. The state contended Chesimard shot Trooper James Harper, wounding him, then took Foerster’s gun and shot him twice in the head as he lay on the ground.
A third man in the car, James Costen, died from his injuries at the scene.
Acoli has claimed he was grazed by a bullet and blacked out, and couldn’t remember the exact sequence of events. He was sentenced in 1974 to life in prison plus 24 to 30 years. He currently is in prison in Otisville, Orange County.
State police and public officials had hoped that President Barack Obama’s plans to normalize full diplomatic relations with Cuba would lead to Chesimard’s return, but Cuban officials said they have the right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives.MORE NEWS: New York Judge Suspends Father's Visitation Rights With Daughter Unless He Gets COVID Vaccine Or Subjects To Weekly Testing
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