A man convicted in the 1973 killing of a state trooper should be released on parole, a state appeals court ruled Monday in a case where a codefendant remains one of the state's most wanted fugitives four decades later, reports NorthJersey.com.
Sundiata Acoli was convicted of shooting State Trooper Werner Foerster to death during a traffic stop after being pulled over for having a tail light out. At the time of the murder, Acoli was known as Clark Edward Squire. Another trooper was also hurt during the traffic stop.
In the car with Acoli was Joanne Chesimard who is believed to be a fugitive living in Cuba under the name Assata Shakur.
Acoli has been denied parole multiple times, most recently in 2011, but the appeals court found that he had shown enough progress to warrant release.
"Make no mistake, we are completely appalled by Acoli's senseless crimes, which left a member of the State Police dead and another injured," the ruling said. "But Acoli has paid the penalty under the laws of this state for his crimes."
The court ruled that he has a right to be paroled unless the state can prove he has a substantial likelihood to commit another crime – something the court found was unlikely.