[Hpn] hate crime update -- Clifton, NJ

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Thu, 15 Nov 2001 12:51:19 -0800


Bergen County Record
Accused testifies in death of squatter

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Staff Writer

One of two homeless men charged in the fatal beating of another squatter in
a Clifton neighborhood testified Tuesday that he slapped the victim -- but
did not brutally kick the man.

Lesnek Homdziuk told the Superior Court jury in Paterson that on July 10,
1999, he and several other men were hanging out and drinking vodka near the
Passaic River when he and Jan Wszeborowski got into an argument.

"He was suspecting me of stealing his radio," Homdziuk said through a Polish
interpreter. "He was raising his voice and saying I was a thief and that he
would tell everyone."

Speaking softly and in short sentences, Homdziuk described how he slapped
the 49-year-old Wszeborowski twice but so lightly that his co-defendant,
Marek Malinowski, said he hit "like a woman."

After the confrontation, Homdziuk said, he helped clean up some blood from
the victim's face and then left with Malinowski.

Authorities charge that Homdziuk kicked Wszeborowski -- who was nicknamed
"I'm Sorry" for his gentle demeanor -- in the head and chest while
Malinowski held the man's feet. Wszeborowski died from a subdural hematoma
-- bleeding within the skull.

Homdziuk, 32, and Malinowski, 44, are charged with aggravated manslaughter
and face maximum 30-year prison terms if convicted.

Previously, another witness, Janina Kochan, testified that she knew the
group of homeless men who gathered near Botany Village, by the
Clifton-Passaic border. She said she saw Homdziuk kick the victim and
Malinowski hold his feet. She also testified that in the days after the
killing, Homdziuk threatened her about reporting the incident to police.

In addition, Homdziuk's girlfriend, with whom he lived on and off in
Passaic, testified that she heard him say, "I shouldn't have killed him."

>From the stand, Homdziuk said Kochan was never at the scene that day, and
that he didn't speak to her in the days afterward. He also said he never
made such comments to his girlfriend. As for the victim's blood found on his
clothing, Homdziuk said it must have been wiped there while he was helping
Wszeborowski after the dispute.

Testimony is expected to continue today, and the case will probably conclude
this week.


Staff Writer Jennifer V. Hughes' e-mail address is hughesj@northjersey.com

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