Lawyer for American Dream shooting suspect details defense
The attorney for the alleged American Dream shooter attempted to portray the victim as the attacker during a detention hearing on Wednesday.
Anwar Stuart, 20, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery, conspiracy and weapons offenses in filming at the mega mall in early April.
His attorney, Frank Carbonetti, attempted to argue during the hearing that the victim had a history of violence and that there was no definitive evidence to point to Stuart as the shooter.
He showed Judge James Sattely surveillance video of the shooting, saying three men approach the suspected shooter, who is seen backing away.
“You see the individuals talking, and then you see the alleged victim attempting to attack an individual the state considers my client,” Carbonetti said.
Carbonetti argued that the video does not show a gun but shows an incident that scares everyone away.
“If anything, this alleged shooter may be defending himself,” Carbonetti said.
Witnesses described the shooter as either Hispanic or a light-skinned black man, but Carbonetti said Stuart fit the “vague” description the state said he must have been the shooter.
“No one has identified Mr. Stuart as the shooter,” Carbonetti said.
Carbonetti said the video shows a person wearing a blue surgical mask in a “very generic” black jacket and the prosecution is trying to argue that Stuart is “positively and definitively” identified as the suspect.
“How many light-skinned black men or light-skinned Hispanic men live around here?” said the lawyer. “I bet it’s beyond the thousands and thousands.”
Carbonetti pointed out that the victim’s criminal history lacked credibility, but Sattely did not allow the defense exhibit to be admitted as evidence for the detention hearing, saying the victim had always been shot, that whether she is a good person or a bad person.
“I appreciate that the attorney wants to put this on trial, but it’s not,” Bergen County District Attorney Pia Shepard said. “The credibility of the victim is not an issue.”
Sattely said the victim’s credibility is an issue for another time.
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Authorities say a sleight of hand between the victim and Stuart preceded the shooting. Shepard said the victim paid part of the $6,000 he had as collateral during the game, which took place in a parking lot outside the mall.
Shepard said Stuart and an accomplice threatened to rob the victim, who ended the game and returned to the mall. According to the prosecutor, the accomplice moved a car, which they then used to flee the scene, closer to the exit of the mall.
Stuart and his accomplice returned to the mall and found the victim on the second level, near the Bath & Body Works store, and approached him, Shepard said. She said Stuart shot the victim multiple times in the crowded mall with a gun hidden in his jacket, hitting him three times at close range. After the shooting, the two men fled.
State Police arrested Stuart along with the US Marshals Service and the New York Police Department. Shepard said cellphone data placed Stuart in the mall area during the shooting and the vehicle used was his car.
Sattely has decided that Stuart will remain in jail until his trial begins and that he has seven days to appeal.
The mall, developed by Triple Five Group, spans over 3 million square feet, including DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, Legoland Discovery Center and Sea Life Aquarium.
Kaitlyn Kanzler covers the courts for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news, from criminal trials to local lawsuits and insightful analysis, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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