The New Jersey Supreme Court today denied an application for compassionate release by Eddie L. Oliver, who shot and killed an undercover Newark police detective prepared to testify against his brother and cousin in a drug case inside the Essex County Courthouse in 1993.
Oliver, now known as Damany Al Kamau, also sought to assassinate the Superior Court judge presiding over the trial, Serena Perretti, and shot and wounded two other law enforcement officers. An Essex County probation employee, Tinisha James, smuggled a .357 Magnum handgun into the courthouse and handed it off to Kamau.
Kamau was sentenced to life in prison with a 75-year period of parole ineligibility.
The 54-year-old Kamau has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and told the court in November 2021 that he had six months to live. A physician for the state Department of Corrections testified that Kamau is bedridden and immobile and requires 24-hour care.
The state opposed his release, as did the two officers who were shot and the widow and brother of the murdered police detective, John Sczyrek.
While Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler determined that Kamau had a permanent physical capacity and was no longer a threat to the public but noted that he had “committed perhaps one of the most heinous, brutal, bold, cold-blooded premeditated murders ever committed in Essex County” and used his judicial discretion to deny the petition.
“Kamau was convicted of murder and three counts of attempted murder. In the commission of those offenses, he executed a plot against the justice system itself. Kamau murdered a law enforcement officer inside a courthouse to prevent him from testifying against members of Kamau’s family. He shot and wounded two other officers, attempted to kill a third, and planned to kill the judge as well,” the Supreme Court decision stated. “Kamau’s crime presents the type of extraordinary aggravating circumstances that justify denying relief. His petition for release is therefore denied.
Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote the unanimous decision, joined by Justices Anne Patterson, Lee Solomon and Fabiana Pierre-Louis, along with Judge Jack Sabatino, who is temporarily assigned to the top court.