- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A Seattle man accused of killing four people in two states in a fit of rage over the U.S. government’s role in the Middle East chose not to attend his trial Thursday in New Jersey on unrelated robbery charges.

Ali Muhammad Brown, 30, is accused of stealing a man’s wallet in West Orange last year, about two weeks after he allegedly killed a New Jersey college student. Brown is charged with robbery and weapons offenses.

Superior Court Judge Michael Petrolle said Brown told him in an earlier video conference that he didn’t want to come to the trial. Petrolle told jurors not to draw any conclusions from Brown’s absence, NJ.com reported (https://bit.ly/1XCoMDi).

During opening statements, Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Jamel Semper said Brown was wearing a mask when he stole a man’s wallet and other belongings at gunpoint and ordered the man into the trunk of his vehicle. Brown then fled the scene, the prosecutor said.

But defense attorney Albert Kapin told jurors his client didn’t commit the crime and the victim couldn’t identify his assailant.

“Not everything is open and shut,” Kapin said. “Not everything is superficial. There are nuances.”

In other cases, Brown is charged with terrorism, murder and related offenses in the fatal shooting of University of Richmond student Brendan Tevlin at a traffic light in June 2014. He also is charged with killing three men in Seattle. Authorities said in court documents filed in Seattle that Brown described himself to detectives after his New Jersey arrest as a strict Muslim who was angry with the U.S. government’s role in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan because of the death of innocent civilians and children.


Information from: NJ Advance Media.

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