The four men charged in connection with the Short Hills mall carjacking and murder of a 30-year-old Toms River native pleaded not guilty in a Newark courtroom Wednesday.
Attorneys for Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington and Karif Ford, 31, Basim Henry, 32, and Kevin Roberts, 33, all of Newark, entered not guilty pleas before Judge Peter J. Vazquez, according a report on nj.com.
All four men have been charged with murder, felony murder, carjacking, conspiracy and weapons possession in connection with the death of Dustin Friedland.
The defendants, who were taken into custody last month, face a maximum penalty of life in prison for their alleged roles in the murder of Friedland at the Short Hills mall on Dec. 15
Friedland was fatally shot when he and his wife were carjacked for their Range Rover after an evening of shopping. Friedland's wife was unharmed.
Thompson, Roberts and Ford were arrested in their New Jersey residences and Henry was arrested at a hotel in Easton, Pa. by federal agents.
Bail was set at $2 million for each defendant by Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin.
The couple's Range Rover was the target—not Friedland—in the incident, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said at a press conference in Newark. Authorities declined to comment which man allegedly pulled the trigger.
The investigation revealed the four men were all in the parking lot the night of the killing with two leaving in the stolen SUV and the other two in the vehicle they arrived in, according to Murray.
The four men were arrested through a "combination of witnesses, statements, technology, old-fashioned police work and putting the pieces together," Murray said.