“Portal to Hell” Trial Ends with Union Township Man Being Convicted of Attempted Murder
The so-called “Portal to Hell” trial concluded with a Union Township man being convicted on two counts of attempted murder.
The case generated a great deal of media attention and garnered national news headlines because the defendant claimed he committed the violent assault as part of a religious mission.
The brutal attack occurred in January 2011 at a house on Longview Road in Union Township, New Jersey. According to prosecutors, the residents, a 58-year-old woman and her 53-year-old partner, found the defendant in their backyard shed during the early morning hours. The women noticed that a number of items had been removed from the shed. When the women opened the door to the shed, they saw the defendant.
The defendant was brandishing a hatchet and a knife when the victims came upon him. He then reportedly told the victims that he was in the process of digging a “portal to hell.” At some point during the encounter, the defendant told the women that he needed to kill them because they were supposedly murdering babies.
The defendant slashed the suspects across their heads, necks, and chests, causing catastrophic injuries. One of the victims sustained so many stab wounds that she required 25 units of blood during surgery. Moreover, the loss of blood caused her to suffer a stroke. The other victim suffered a fractured skull, a severed jugular vein, and numerous stab wounds. One emergency room doctor who treated the victims later offered testimony at trial and said that she was surprised the victims were able to survive their injuries.
Authorities have said that the only reason the women survived was because their next-door neighbor intervened in the attack. The 42-year-old man who lived next door rescued the victims, but he sustained serious injuries when the defendant stabbed him as well. He witnessed the attack and ran from his house to the victims’ backyard. The man wielded a baseball bat to get the defendant off one of the victims and then wrestled the defendant to the ground and held him there until Union Township police officers arrived at the scene.
Now the defendant has been convicted after a lengthy trial in Union County Superior Court, which is located in Elizabeth, NJ. At the end of the trial, the Union County Superior Court jury, composed of four men and eight women, returned a verdict of guilty on two counts of attempted murder in connection with the stabbings of the two women who lived at the Longview Road home.
However, jurors found the defendant not guilty on attempted murder charges stemming from the stabbing of the next-door neighbor. Instead, the jury found the defendant guilty of a lesser charge of third degree aggravated assault for that attack.
The jury also found the defendant guilty on multiple weapons offenses.
During the trial, the defendant’s attorney argued that his client was not responsible for his actions on the night of the vicious attack because he was intoxicated and psychotic as a result of having smoked synthetic marijuana. The defense attorney further argued that the defendant’s state of psychosis meant that he was not capable of forming the intent necessary to commit the violent crimes. The jury ultimately rejected these arguments and found the defendant legally responsible for his actions.
After the jury rendered its verdict, the victims hugged each other in the courtroom. One of the victims declared that justice had been served, while the other victim said that she would finally be able to get on with her life.
When the defendant returns to Union County Superior Court, in Elizabeth NJ, on April 15 for formal sentencing, he faces severe penalties. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1, attempted murder is a first degree felony and carries a potential punishment of 20 years in New Jersey State Prison.
For additional information about this case, see the following article: ‘Portal to hell’ suspect convicted of attempted murder in stabbing 2 women