ELIZABETH – Last week, a Union County jury returned guilty verdicts against Naji Muhammad, 27, and Hazma Abdul-Matin, 24, for 18 counts of first-degree carjacking, armed robbery, eluding law enforcement, resisting arrest, weapons offenses and pointing a firearm at a police officer, announced Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.
According to Assistant Prosecutor Joshua McMahon, who tried the month-long case along with Assistant Prosecutor Ann Rubin, the charges stem from a January 5, 2010, incident wherein Muhammad and Abdul-Matin approached two Elizabeth men at the Shell Gas Station on Routes 1 & 9 in Elizabeth. Muhammad pointed the gun at the driver’s head and demanded the vehicle, while Abdul-Matin forcibly ripped the other victim from the car. The defendants then fled the area in the stolen truck and were later spotted in the stolen vehicle by the Elizabeth Police Department.
Following a high-speed chase through the city, the defendants ultimately crashed their vehicle near the entrance to the New Jersey Turnpike and as officers went to remove them from the stolen pick-up truck, Abdul-Matin pointed a black handgun at Police Officer Helder DeAbreau, who, in fear for his life, returned fire. Abdul-Matin was treated for his injuries and made a full recovery.
Utilization of the Union County Forensic Laboratory, DNA Section was able to recover evidence which tied both defendants to the firearm used in the carjacking and pointed at the police officer.
Both Muhammad and Abdul-Matin, face life in prison when they are sentenced before Union County Judge Frederic R. McDaniel on May 18.
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