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Monday, 29 October 2007

Court appearance for man accused in Lakewood bat attack

Lee Tucker 37, accused of the attempted murder of
Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz

TOMS RIVER — A state Superior Court judge noted a 37-year-old Lakewood man’s history of mental illness Thursday as he faced charges of attempting to murder an Orthodox rabbi who was severely beaten with a baseball bat earlier this month.
Lee Tucker of Ventura Drive, arrested Wednesday, stood before Judge Barbara Ann Villano in the Oct. 9 attack on Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz, 53. Deputy Public Defender Frank Gonzalez entered a not guilty plea on Tucker’s behalf.

“There were concerns about the defendant’s history and any mental health issues he may have had or continues to have,” Villano said, although she did not elaborate on what it was.

The judge added that she would notify officials at the Ocean County Jail of that history.

Gonzalez, questioned outside the courtroom after the brief court appearance about Tucker’s mental condition, said, “That will be investigated by this (the Public Defender’s) office. . . . I don’t know very much about Mr. Tucker.”

Court records show Tucker was charged with a weapons offense in Monmouth County on May 19, 1997, but the charge was downgraded, and he pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense of fighting in public, for which he was fined $250. He was charged with aggravated assault in Ocean County in 1994, but the charge was administratively dismissed.

No Contact

During Thursday’s court proceeding, Villano maintained Tucker’s bail at $375,000, with no option to gain release from the county jail by posting 10 percent of that amount. She told Tucker that should he post bail, he can have no contact with the victim or his family or he would forfeit the amount posted.

Tucker then asked, “What do you mean by no contact?”

Villano responded, “You can’t call them, you can’t write to them, you have to stay away from him and his family.”

For the most part during the proceeding, Tucker was quiet and, at times, hung his head.

He was arrested at Fourth Street and Princeton Avenue in Lakewood Wednesday afternoon, eight blocks from where the bat attack occurred. The arrest was the result of an investigation headed by Lakewood Detective Steven Wexler and county Prosecutor’s Investigator Carlos Trujillo-Tovar.

Psychiatric patient

Lakewood police first questioned Tucker on Tuesday after they picked him up at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow upon his discharge from the facility, police said. They also didn’t elaborate on why he was there or for how long.

At that time, they did not have enough evidence to charge him in the bat attack, but enough additional information came to light over the next day to file the charges, they said. He is also charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Moskowitz, of Lakewood, a third-grade teacher at Lakewood Cheder School, was struck just after dark while walking to synagogue to pray. The assault occurred at Princeton Avenue and Carey Street. The victim is at a rehabilitation center with injuries to his face and head.

Authorities have said there is no information to support a theory that the attack was motivated by religious bias.

Last week, the Vaad — Lakewood’s Council of Orthodox Leaders — and the Anti-Defamation League offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, which led to some tips in the case, police said.

Update: According to Yeshive World Lee Tucker's birthdate is 05-30-1970

Mr Bagel: There's no doubt the vicious assault of Rabbi Mordechai Moskowitz has brought a lot of attention. There is a long list of blog posts dealing with this assault. It seems some are very thankful that the Lakewood Police were able to find the perpetrator whilst others aren't so impressed with the recent actions of the police. What is for sure, is this man is a danger to the community and his arrest is at least a positive step in making Lakewood a safer community.

To read some of the comments pertaining to this case try Yeshiva World News

Hattip: Thanks to JewishBlogmeister


Jewish Blogmeister said...

Great post !

Yehudi01 said...

That was such a tragic and sad event. I posted that on my blog the day it happened.