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‘Baby-faced’ Lyndhurst killer gets 7 years for witness tampering

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A remorseless baby-faced killer sentenced to life in prison for gunning down an aspiring police officer in Lyndhurst got another seven years today for intimidating witnesses in the case.

Fernando “Fipo” Carrero Jr. declined to speak during the defense portion of this morning’s sentencing.

He later asked to address Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi just before Bergen County Sheriff’s officers led him out for his return to state prison in Ossining, N.Y.

She refused.

“The way it goes here,” the judge said, “the defense speaks first, then the prosecution, and then I speak.

“You had nothing to say when you had the opportunity, so you don’t get to talk now,” she said, motioning for the officers to take him away.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

DeAvila-Silebi earlier said that Carrero “has shown no remorse, no respect for society, none for the courts.”

She cited his prior record and said he is “likely to commit another offense.”

Given how callous and depraved the murder was, the judge said, there wasn’t a single mitigating factor in Carrero’s favor.

The only concessions he got — and these were almost inconsequential — were 239 days of jail credit for time served and 169 days of “gap” time, should he ever come to the end of the 75 years he must serve before he’s eligible for parole.

Carrero, who’s filled out a bit since his murder trial last winter, is 23 now. He was 17 when he killed aspiring Newark police officer Jose Hall.

“Mr. Carrero set out to intimidate the witnesses so he could get off on the murder charge,” Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Grootenboer said.  “He did this coldly and calculatingly, and almost from the minute he was arrested.”

Carrero wrote a letter to potential witnesses “within a week of his arrest” for the murder of Hall, a family friend of Carrero’s girlfriend, Kerrilynn Lowenstein, Grootenboer said.

In the time leading up to his trial, which began last December, Carrero also wrote several letters to Lowenstein, his former girlfriend, threatening to “kill [her] and [her] entire family” if she didn’t change her testimony, Grootenboer told CLIFFVIEW PILOT earlier.

He also corresponded with his sister, Marlene Ortiz, giving her explicit instructions for contacting Lowenstein and Corey Hicks, the other key witness in the case against him, and getting them to change their stories.

Hicks lived in Lowenstein’s parents’ house, where the murder occurred, and was a former boyfriend of hers. Hall was a frequent visitor, prosecutors said.

Lowenstein tried to wrest the gun from Carrero’s hand after he’d already shot Hall once — without success, Grootenboer said.

“It takes a very cold-hearted, callous person with a cavalier attitude toward courts of law to do what Carrero did,” she said.

“His story, in a sense, has been written in this [plea] agreement,” Grootenboer added. “Not only do I stand by it, but Jose’s parents who are here stand by it, and so does Kerrilynn Lowenstein.”

Lowenstein stood up to Carrero, who’d abused her, and did everything she could to try and save Hall, the prosecutor said.

Carrero originally agreed to plead guilty to the murder in January, 2012 in return for a 30-year sentence but changed his mind about three weeks before his sentencing and went to trial.

Superior Court Judge Patrick Roma found him guilty this past Feb. 1.

Ortiz, meanwhile, was admitted to pre-trial intervention for her role in the same crime. The program allows her to clear her record of the arrest if she meets certain conditions for a specified period of time.

A condition of the arrangement worked out with prosecutors is that neither Carrero nor Ortiz ever have contact with Lowenstein again.

STORY / PHOTO: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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