Khari Noerdlinger, the son of Rachel Noerdlinger, the former chief of staff to New York City’s First lady, Chirlane McCray, was charged last week in Bergen County, New Jersey with aggravated manslaughter, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and hindering apprehension after he allegedly stabbed to death a 16 year old who, along with a few others, was robbing Noerdlinger at the time. As this case hit the front page of the New York City tabloids, Jeffrey Lichtman argued to the court that the $500,000 bail was excessive because Khari was not only no flight risk but that he had a strong affirmative defense: Khari, under attack, defended himself lawfully when his attacker was killed. The judge agreed and bail was reduced to $300,000, just a few days after initially being set, and Khari was released from jail soon thereafter.
Strong Evidence of Self-Defense
Khari’s valid defense to the charge of aggravated manslaughter is because he reasonably believed that the force he used was “necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily harm ….” N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4(2). Khari was in fact attacked by a group of up to five people, planning to rob him while armed with at least a baseball bat and a machete. It was not until Khari was beaten to the ground by his attackers did he attempt to save himself and his resulting actions caused the death of one of his attackers — attackers who traveled from Rockland County, New York with the purpose of attacking and robbing Khari. All of these facts surely lessen the chances of a conviction in his case — which is one of the factors to be considered by a judge when determining whether the defendant is a risk of flight.
Factors To Be Considered When Bail is Being Set
In determining whether a defendant is a flight risk, there are eight factors for a New Jersey court to consider: (1) severity of the crime and apparent likelihood of conviction; (2) criminal history and record on bail; (3) defendant’s mental health and reputation; (4) length of residence in the community; (5) family relationships; (6) employment history and financial status; (7) background of friends and family who will vouch for the defendant; and (8) any other factor that may bear on the defendant’s risk of flight. R. 3:26-1(a).
Regarding the first factor — severity of the crime and apparent likelihood of conviction — while the top charge of manslaughter is serious, the judge found that “There are questions in the case certainly. The victim, as well as the four other, for the lack of a better word, co-defendants, came to Khari’s house not with benign intentions. That they came with weapons. …. That does raise questions of the likelihood of a conviction.” As for the rest of the bail factors, Khari had no criminal convictions, never missed a court appearance, had lived in the community with his mother for years and attends Bergen County Community College as a full-time student. Additionally, last year Khari interned at Global Grind, a media and entertainment company located in Manhattan, and this past summer, he volunteered at Life Camp – a youth anti-violence group located in New York City. Khari was also active in his church youth group at the New Hope Baptist Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey and volunteered for Gathering For Justice, an organization aimed at curbing youth incarceration. Further, Khari was a fixture at the National Action Network, a national civil rights organization. Members of Khari’s community packed the courtroom for his bail appearance, surely confirming that his friends, family and community vouched for him, another determining bail factor. His long list of people willing to come forward and vouch for him included the Reverend Al Sharpton who has known Khari his entire life; Erica Ford, CEO and founder of Life Camp, Inc.; Steffie Bartly, Pastor at New Hope Baptist Church; and New York Assemblyman Michael Blake.
The Court Rules
The judge ultimately agreed with our application, stating that he was “satisfied that the bail as constituted … is excessively high.” Once bail was cut nearly in half, bond was posted and Khari was freed from jail, ready to fight the charges against him. Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman at (212) 581-1001 to discuss your case today.