|The Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, where a woman is on trial in the murder of her husband, and her brother is accused of dismembering and disposing of the corpse.|
Editor's note: As a newspaper reporter, I spent several years covering criminal and civil cases in federal court in Newark, and in state Superior Court in Paterson and Hackensack.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Defense attorney Frank P. Lucianna likes to say he has been "69 years a lawyer."
Indeed, at 97, Lucianna is the oldest lawyer still practicing in Bergen County -- if not in the state.
And on Tuesday, the well-dressed attorney was in a chilly courtroom in the Bergen County Courthouse, defending Adrienne Smith, who is accused of killing her husband, Randolph, in Bergenfield, and recruiting her brother to dismember and dispose of the corpse.
"I'm very lucky," Lucianna said during a break, referring to his being alive and able to practice at his age.
The Englewood native turned 97 on Jan. 11.
He said he gave the opening statement to the jury, cross-examined the medical examiner and will cross-examine the "important witnesses."
Asked his defense, Lucianna said, "She didn't do it," referring to client Adrienne Smith and the December 2016 murder.
His junior partner, Frank V. Carbonetti, is assisting Lucianna, and a lawyer from another firm represents Orville Cousins, Adrienne Smith's brother.
Cousins and Smith have been in jail since authorities discovered Randolph Smith's body parts in 6 containers in Burlington in January 2017.
|The Record of Woodland Park and NorthJersey.com ran this photo of defense attorney Frank P. Lucianna, with his signature red pocket square, when he was 94 years old.|
On Tuesday morning, in contrast to the drama of trials shown on "Bull" and other TV shows, the proceedings couldn't have been duller.
The prosecutor referred to numerous photos of the crime scene and the Smiths' two Mercedes-Benzes parked outside their Morgan Street home, and asked a detective on the witness stand if they looked the same as when he executed a search warrant.
"I'm going to show you what has been marked as 462...," she said.
There are 5 men and 11 women on the panel (a jury of 12, plus 4 alternates).
The prosecutor then moved to enter the photos into evidence, and if there was no objection from the defense lawyers and the judge approved, the photos appeared one by one on a flat-screen TV on the wall opposite the panel.
"How's everyone doing?" Superior Court Judge Christopher Kazlau asked the jurors at one point. "OK? "It's a little cold in here."
Traces of blood
The photos entered into evidence included those of a toilet, a wall inside a shower, a door leading into the garage and a washcloth, all with traces of blood.
Before the lunch break, Lucianna's partner, Carbonetti, began to cross-examine the county homicide detective, asking if was aware Bergenfield police officers twice visited the home and examined the crime scene.