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JURY VERDICT AFFIRMED IN ATTEMPTED MURDER TRIAL

On Thursday, May 19, 2016, the Appellate Division affirmed this attempted murder jury verdict following the defendant’s appeal. Assistant Deputy Public Defender Amira Scurato appealed on behalf of the defendant, Robert H. Hankins and Chief of the Appellate Unit, Samuel J. Marzarella and Assistant Prosecutor John C. Tassini represented the State on the appeal.

The case was presented by Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Ehsan F. Chowdhry at the trial level. The defendant was represented by Assistant Deputy Public Defender Michael G. Vito. The Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr. presided over the trial. Multiple agencies assisted in the prosecution of this matter, including the Lakewood Township Police Department, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, the New Jersey State Police and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The lead detective was Detective Thomas Tiernan of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Monica Schuler of Victim Witness provided key assistance. The jury deliberated very briefly before it voted unanimously to convict the Toms River man of first-degree attempted murder in an incident in which the defendant slashed a woman’s throat on New Year’s Eve 2011.

At 11:53 p.m. that night, Hankins approached Sasso, pulled out a knife, and slit her throat. Hankins then went outside the building and slit his own throat. Both Hankins and Sasso were taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Both survived. Sasso’s anterior jugular vein was severed. She has not worked since the attack, and still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Robert H. Hankins, 65, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted. He must serve 85% percent, or approximately 17 years, under the State’s No Early Release Act. The appellate division judges remanded for re-sentencing clarification.

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