State Supreme Court to decide if man convicted of killing state trooper should be freed

The state Supreme Court heard the case of Sundiata Acoli on Monday morning. The man convicted of assassinating a New Jersey state trooper is now one step closer to potential freedom.

News 12 Staff

Feb 1, 2022, 1:27 AM

Updated 862 days ago

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The state Supreme Court heard the case of Sundiata Acoli on Monday morning. The man convicted of assassinating a New Jersey state trooper is now one step closer to potential freedom.
“The darkest stereotype since slavery times has been the rebellious Black male,” says Raymond Brown, of the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Acoli, 85, has been imprisoned for 48 years. He now has the lingering effects of COVID-19 and early marks of dementia. The state Supreme Court must now decide if he is still a danger to society.
Acoli and Joanne Chesimard were part of the Black Liberation Army when they murdered Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.
“People who have committed violence because of political views decades later never go back to that. I'm not aware of a single case,” says Acoli’s attorney Bruce Afran.
Attorneys, pastors, and even some Black law enforcement organizations now want Acoli freed.
Foerster was killed along the New Jersey Turnpike. Chesimard has claimed for decades that she is innocent and says Acoli is the one who killed the trooper. Afran said in court on Monday that it is possible that Chesimard was the one who fired the fatal shot.
“I don't know how Joanne Chesimard explains away Trooper Foerster's blood on her shirt and pants. That puts her on top of Trooper Foerster along with Acoli,” says State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.
Callahan says evidence shows both Chesimard and Acoli murdered Foerster.
“Between the two of them, they wrestled Trooper Foerster's revolver out of his holster, even tearing the leather on it, and then fired two rounds point-blank into Trooper Foerster's head,” he says.
Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, escaped from Edna Mahan prison in 1979 after being convicted. It is believed that she escaped to Cuba. She has not been found.
Acoli could now be on the cusp of freedom after decades behind bars.
“Trooper Foerster didn't have a chance to be 80 and be a grandfather and to see his grandchildren, says Callahan.
The state Supreme Court has not said when it will deliver its decision. Acoli's attorney told the justices that if he is released, Acoli would live with his daughter at her seven-bedroom home in Brooklyn.


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