Two remaining defendants in Short Hills Mall murder enter guilty pleas

NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced Oct. 10 that the two remaining defendants in the Short Hill Mall carjacking murder from December 2013 entered guilty pleas.

Karif Ford, 35, of Newark and Hanif Thompson, 32, of Irvington pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the crime, which resulted in the death of 30-year-old Hoboken lawyer Dustin Friedland. Ford and Thompson were part of a scheme to go to the mall looking for high-end cars. They killed Friedland while trying to take his new Range Rover.

On Oct. 10, they admitted what they did that night. Ford pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree carjacking and Thompson, the shooter, pleaded guilty to felony murder and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Ford must serve 85 percent of a 20-year sentence before he is eligible for parole and Thompson must serve 30 years before he is eligible for parole, according to Assistant Prosecutor Brian Matthews, who handled the case.

Newlyweds, the Friedlands had gone to the mall on Dec. 15, 2013, when the four defendants came to the mall looking for a car to steal. As Dustin Friedland helped his wife into their Range Rover and walked back to the driver’s side of the vehicle, Thompson approached him and demanded his keys. A struggle ensued and Thompson shot Friedland.

Basim Henry, 36, of South Orange, the getaway driver, went to trial and was convicted on all counts. He was sentenced to life in prison. Kevin Roberts, 39, of Newark entered a guilty plea in July to first-degree carjacking and is facing a 20-year sentence. He must serve 85 percent of that sentence before he is eligible for parole.

“The resolution of the remaining cases spares the victim’s widow from having to testify on two more occasions and brings some finality to this case which has been an unspeakable nightmare for the family,” Matthews said.

Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 18, at 9 a.m. before Judge Michael Ravin. All three defendants, who have not yet been sentenced, are expected to be sentenced on the same day.