A New Jersey Superior Court jury sitting in Freehold has returned guilty verdicts on the most serious charges against the man who attacked and killed a stranger in Freehold Township in May 2018, solely because of the victim’s race, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced on Nov. 18.
Following a seven-week trial before Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas, Jamil Hubbard, 30, of Sayreville, was convicted of first degree murder, first degree bias intimidation, second degree eluding police, third degree theft from the person, third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and third degree motor vehicle theft, all in connection with the death of Jerry Wolkowitz, 56, of Freehold Township, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
At approximately 7:15 a.m. May 1, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department and other first responders rushed to the Chesterfield Apartments on Harding Road, off Route 537, Freehold Township, to investigate a report of a physical altercation involving a person struck by a vehicle.
At that location they found Wolkowitz in the apartment complex’s parking lot, having sustained severe injuries to his head, abdomen and back. Wolkowitz was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune, for emergency treatment.
Missing from the parking lot was Wolkowitz’s vehicle, a Kia Forte, which Hubbard was later found to have stolen.
Hubbard then led police on a pursuit, refusing to obey commands to pull over, until the pursuit was terminated due to high speeds and out of concern for public safety, according to the press release.
Minutes later, the Kia was found abandoned on Bordentown Avenue in Sayreville and Hubbard was arrested by members of the Sayreville Police Department without incident at his home in the nearby Winding Wood Apartments.
An investigation involving members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau, the Freehold Township Police Department and the Sayreville Police Department later revealed Hubbard was in the area that morning because he had slept in his vehicle overnight, having engaged in an argument with his ex-girlfriend, a resident of the apartment complex, the night before.
When Hubbard, who is Black, woke up, he told investigators, he spotted Wolkowitz walking nearby and decided to try to kill him because he was white, initially attacking Wolkowitz from behind with punches and kicks before stealing his wallet and car keys. Hubbard also told investigators he dragged Wolkowitz into the parking lot and ran him over.
Wolkowitz, a longtime member of the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad and a freelance photographer, remained hospitalized in a coma until he died due to his injuries five-and-a-half months after the attack, on Oct. 18, 2018.
A Monmouth County Grand Jury returned a seven-count indictment against Hubbard in March 2019.
Hubbard’s prosecution was handled by Monmouth County assistant prosecutors Hoda Soliman and Keri Schaefer, who presented evidence at trial refuting an attempted insanity defense, showing that Hubbard’s conduct was intentional, knowing and deliberate, according to the press release.
“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,’ ” Santiago said.
“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,” Santiago said.
Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for March 31, 2023, at which time Hubbard will face a term of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the press release.