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Defense seeks man's statements tossed in 2011 Vineland slaying

VINELAND — The attorney for a New Jersey man just sentenced to prison in the death of one girlfriend is trying to have prosecutors barred from using his statements to investigators in the slaying of another girlfriend in 2011.

Daniel Brennan, sentenced last week to 15 years on an aggravated manslaughter plea in the July 2018 death of 31-year-old Leeann Foltrauer in Pitman, is now facing charges in the death of 24-year-old Courtney Allen, who was found in the basement of her Vineland home on New Year’s Eve 2011.

Prosecutors said the two had a 2-year-old child together and Allen also was six months pregnant with Brennan’s baby at the time of her murder. Prosecutors said Allen was killed by “asphyxia due to neck compressions” and her body had been moved and “repositioned” prior to the arrival of police.

Authorities say that Brennan, 34, gave contradictory statements in three interviews in that case.

Defense attorney Kimberly Schultz wants those statements suppressed, saying her client wasn’t advised of his rights even though he was “clearly a suspect and was clearly being interrogated.”

“This was not simply a fact-finding mission or community policing, they knew all the relevant facts and were waiting for Mr. Brennan to say something incriminating,” Schultz wrote in her motion.

Cumberland County Assistant Prosecutor Lesley Snock, however, said Miranda warnings weren’t administrated prior to his first interview on the day the body was discovered because the cause of death hadn’t been determined and it was suspected that she may have died from medical issues reported by her family.

“Here, the status of the defendant at the time of the interview was that of a potential witness,” Snock said, adding that Brennan was free to leave at any time. Miranda warnings were issued for his second and third interviews in January 2012, Snock said, and Brennan waived his rights

Under terms of the plea agreement, Brennan’s sentence in Foltrauer’s death will be served concurrently to any sentence in the 2011 Cumberland County case.

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Stockton University hosts discussion of immigration issues in Atlantic City

ATLANTIC CITY — Stockton University provided human faces and voices to bring attention to the immigrant experience during a two-part panel discussion Friday at the city campus.

Lucia de los Angeles Diaz Genao, co-founder of Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz, traveled from Mexico to talk about the violence there that could cause someone to leave their home and enter America illegally.

In 2013, Genao’s son, Luis Guillermo Lagunes, was abducted. She wore a button with her son’s face on it as she spoke.

“They are waiting for us, and only we can find them, recover them, because the authorities do not fulfill their obligations to guarantee the safety of its citizens, and they do not fulfill their duties to find our children,” Genao said of Mexican law enforcement officials.

As Lagunes worked to find her son, she met other mothers looking for their children. In some cases, grandmothers were left to care for grandchildren while parents were missing.

“I realized that I had been selfish, thinking only of myself, when in reality, there were so many suffering, desperate mothers who did not have the preparation or the resources to face this tragedy,” said Genao, who spoke through an interpreter. “That’s how I started the group of mothers I lead today, the Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz: Mothers who fight with love.”

Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz’s work resulted in the discovery of the largest clandestine grave in Mexico and possibly the largest in a country not facing an armed conflict, Genao said.

They found 298 bodies in 156 graves, Genao said. There were 22,560 bones, but only 22 bodies have been identified because there are not enough DNA profiles of the families.

“It is essential that the Mexican state recognizes the great humanitarian catastrophe that we face — hundreds of thousands of families in Mexico — and works to end disappearances, to search for the disappeared and to identify the bodies that are unknown, a number that we know is in the tens of thousands,” said Genao, who is still looking for her son.

The other speakers addressed life in South Jersey as an immigrant, both those who have the proper documentation and the undocumented.

Irvin Moreno-Rodriguez, founding member of the Hispanic Advocacy Committee for Equity (H.A.C.E.) and a Stockton program assistant, wanted to make sure the local community was aware of some of the services available to them.

There are naturalization classes at Stockton that are free and open to the community, and homework completion programs where Stockton students will visit Stanley Holmes Village, Buzby Homes Village and the Pleasantville library to help students with their homework.

Pleasantville police Chief Sean Riggin said immigrants are victimized at higher rates than longtime residents of a community.

As a police officer, Riggin said he only enforces the law. He does not write the laws. It takes political will and community cohesion to change laws people feel are unjust, he said.

One way to start changing things is to make sure community populations are properly counted through the U.S. Census, which determines both representation numbers and government resources.

The communities of Atlantic City and Pleasantville, in particular, should make a concerted effort to fill out Census forms next year, Riggin said.

“If we don’t report and stand up, we are allowing a system to push us around,” said Riggin, who added more affluent communities will fill out the forms.

Nishtha Kohli, the managing immigration attorney at Global Legal Papers in Northfield, talked about the current situation with the people who were brought to this country illegally as children.

“The Trump administration ended the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program on Sept. 5, 2017,” said Kohli, who added the U.S. Supreme Court will hold a hearing on DACA on Nov. 12. “Experts and analysts expect the court will side with the Trump administration.”

GALLERY: Families Belong Together rally in Bridgeton

Poll finds statewide concern with climate change, differences along party lines

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Wherever they live in the state, two-thirds of New Jersey residents believe climate change is a crisis or a major problem, and an even larger group believe it is affecting the state now, according to a Stockton University poll released Monday.

“We wondered whether those living near the water would feel differently about these issues than residents throughout the state,” said John Froonjian, interim director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton. “But there was broad agreement across New Jersey. On almost every question, results in coastal areas were within a few percentage points of the statewide responses.”

Among those who believe climate change is currently affecting New Jersey, 64% believe climate change is caused mainly by human activity and burning fossil fuels. Twenty-seven percent believe it is a natural occurrence.

More than half (56%) said government could or should do more to address climate change, and 31% said the government response is totally inadequate. Just 10% said the government response has been strong and appropriate.

"That shows the public is ahead of the politicians on this issue, and is actually leading them," Froonjian said. "The public is clearly concerned and wants government to be doing more on this issue."

There were significant differences by party, gender and age, with 92% of Democrats, 64% of independents and just 35% of Republicans saying it is a crisis or major problem. 

Among women, 72% of women said it's a major problem or crisis, while 64% of men did so. Young people are the most concerned about the issue, with almost 80% of respondents ages 18 to 29 seeing it as a crisis or a major problem, in contrast to 70% of those over 65. 

Flooding in the coastal zone of the state is a significant or serious problem to 72% of those polled. Just over half would support local construction projects to reduce the threat of flooding, even if they had to pay higher taxes or fees; and 68% would support limiting or restricting construction next to beaches and the ocean.

The telephone poll of 807 adult New Jersey residents was conducted from Sept. 18 to 29, by the Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5% statewide and plus or minus 4.1% coastal.