Closing arguments heard in Chatham priest murder trial

MORRISTOWN - Closing arguments began today in the trial of a church janitor accused of fatally stabbing a Chatham priest.

Defendant Jose Feliciano spent more than a week on the witness stand, answering questions about the 2009 slaying of Rev. Edwards Hinds. The stabbing occurred in the rectory of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove Feliciano murdered Hinds when he found out the priest was going to fire him from his janitorial job. They are focusing on the credibility of Feliciano.

Feliciano claims he was sexually blackmailed by the priest for whom he worked for as a custodian and killed him after he was provoked into a fight. However, Prosecutor Robert Bianchi says Feliciano habitually lies. Bianchi told the jury he doesn't believe the accusations.

Felciano's attorney says his client has admitted to stabbing Hinds. But he's hoping for a lesser charge of manslaughter. The attorney says the sexual history between the men drove Feliciano to kill the priest.

Deliberations are expected to begin tomorrow, exactly two months after the trial began.

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