NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey — A man who pleaded guilty in the unprovoked fatal beating of a New Jersey father is now seeking to withdraw his plea.
Steven Contreras was among five teenagers charged in the 2010 attack on Divyendu Sinha, who was beaten as he walked with his wife and two sons in Old Bridge. Contreras was acquitted of murder and aggravated manslaughter charges last year, but jurors could not reach a verdict on a manslaughter count he faced.
Contreras eventually pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated assault as part of plea bargain to resolve the manslaughter charge and was to be sentenced Friday. But that was postponed when his new lawyer, Carlos Diaz-Cobo, announced their intent to withdraw the plea.
The now-20-year-old Contreras was due to receive a 4-year state prison term. But Middlesex County prosecutors recently sought to vacate the plea deal, claiming Contreras was not truthful when he testified during the trial of two other defendants who were cleared of all major charges.
Those two defendants were convicted of simple assault and sentenced last month to six months each in the county jail. The two other teens charged in the case pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and are now serving state prison terms.
Diaz-Cobo declined comment on why Contreras was seeking to withdraw his plea because the motion has not been filed. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2014.
If Contreras is allowed to withdraw his plea, he would then stand trial for reckless manslaughter. If the judge decliens his request and allows prosecutors to vacate the plea bargain, Contreras would face up to 10 years in prison.