A 30-year-old Black man in New Jersey may spend the rest of his life behind bars after being convicted of killing a 56-year-old white emergency medical technician (EMT) and freelance photographer in an attack “motivated solely by the victim’s race.” A Monmouth County jury on Friday found Jamil Hubbard guilty of first-degree murder for the violent 2018 slaying of Jerry Wolkowitz, prosecutors announced.
In addition to the murder charge, jurors also returned a guilty verdict against Hubbard on charges of first-degree bias intimidation, second-degree eluding, third-degree theft from the person, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and third-degree motor vehicle theft.
“This was the textbook definition of a senseless crime, and as our prosecuting team astutely noted in their closing argument, ‘senseless’ does not mean ‘insane,'” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago said in a statement. “Mr. Wolkowitz was an innocent victim, minding his own business and on his way home from work, when his life was snuffed out over something as trivial as the color of his skin. Such a monstrous act necessitates that justice be served, and we sincerely thank the jury in this case for carefully weighing the evidence and reaching the appropriate conclusion.”
According to a press release from the Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor, officers with the Freehold Township Police Department responded at approximately 7:15 a.m. on May 1, 2018 to an apartment complex located on Harding Road regarding reports of a “physical altercation involving a person being struck by vehicle.”
Upon arriving at the scene, first responders say they found Wolkowitz lying on the ground in the parking lot of the complex. Police said the victim was unresponsive and appeared to have sustained “severe injuries to his head, abdomen, and back.” Medical personnel rushed Wolkowitz to the Jersey Shore University Medical Center for emergency treatment.
Investigators soon discovered that Wolkowitz’s vehicle, a Kia, was missing from the parking lot. When investigators located the vehicle in transit, the driver — later identified as Hubbard — attempted to flee and a high-speed chase ensued. Pursuit of the vehicle was called off by authorities out of concern for public safety “due to high speeds.” Just a few minutes later, however, officers with the Sayreville Police Department located the Kia, which had been abandoned on Bordentown Avenue. Police then arrested Hubbard at his home at the nearby Winding Wood Apartments.
Prosecutors said Hubbard was sleeping in his car on the night of the attack after getting in a heated argument with his then-girlfriend who lived in the apartment complex.
“When he woke up, he told investigators, he spotted Wolkowitz walking nearby and decided to try to kill him because he was white, initially attacking him from behind with punches and kicks before stealing his wallet and car keys,” the press release states. “He also told investigators he dragged the victim into the parking lot and ran him over.”
Wolkowitz survived the initial attack and remained hospitalized in critical care for nearly six months before succumbing to his injuries on Oct. 18, 2018. Hubbard was was indicted for murder in March 2019.
Hubbard is currently scheduled to appear for his sentencing hearing before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas on March 31, 2023. He faces a maximum term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
[Image via Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office]
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