Friday, February 03, 2017

In courtroom rant, man says he punched N.J. bishop to stop killings by cops

Man in priest-punching video says he's a reverendDuring a profane rant in an Essex County courtroom that raised questions of his mental health, a city man accused of punching an auxiliary bishop during a Saturday Mass said he attacked the priest to strike out against what he claimed is the Catholic Church's involvement in police brutality.
 
Charles Miller's comments during a pre-trial detention hearing Thursday came against the advice of both his attorney and Judge Martin G. Cronin, who warned Miller -- shackled and guarded by sheriff's officers -- that statements he made would be placed on the court record.

"Anything you say is being recorded," Cronin cautioned.

"That's good," said Miller, 48, who went on to say he believed the Catholic Church is responsible for black people being killed by police in America.

"The pope is the (expletive) faith, that's why I bust him in his (expletive) face," he said.

Miller, 48, is charged with aggravated assault in connection with an attack on Rev. Manuel A. Cruz, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark, while Cruz was leading a Mass at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Video obtained and published online Sunday by TapIntoNewark shows Miller, wearing a red suit underneath a white coat and hat, walking to the front of the church and punching Cruz in the face, before being tackled by people attending the service.

In an initial appearance Tuesday before Judge Sybil M. Elias, Miller identified himself as a reverend and asked whether the Bible would be part of the evidence turned over to the defense.

Assistant Prosecutor Frantzou Simon said a review of Miller's background indicated he had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

"At this time, the state would move to seek a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant," Simon said, a request Cronin granted, ordering Miller be held pending a Feb. 8 hearing on the results of the evaluation.


A Newark judge ordered that Charles Miller be held in jail pending a detention Thursday hearing in his aggravated assault case.

"I got psychiatric issues, you're keeping me from my medication and I got no bail," he yelled, as sheriff's officers led him back to a holding cell.

Elias on Tuesday said Miller's records indicate he has prior out-of-state convictions, as well as failures to appear in court on other charges. Court records show he was charged in 2012 with threatening a law enforcement officer while resisting arrest, an indictable offense that was later downgraded.

Cruz received non-serious injuries, and addressed a congregation Sunday to assure them he was fine, according to the archdiocese.

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