Brian K. Session, the East Orange man accused of attacking a Morristown woman with a stun gun and sexually assaulting her last week, after a string of local burglaries, could face life behind bars if convicted.
That’s according to Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Meg Rodriguez, who spoke Wednesday at a detention hearing for Session in Morristown.
While the 47-year-old defendant “vehemently denies certain charges,” he did not contest his continued detention in the Morris County Jail, in hopes it will expedite a trial, Public Defender Sean O’Connor told Superior Court Assignment Judge Stuart Minkowitz.
Bail no longer is an option in New Jersey. Detention now depends on the charges and the circumstances.
Session’s rap sheet includes at least 10 convictions dating to 1990, according to Rodriguez. Most appear to be burglaries; records show the longtime Jersey City resident received three years’ probation last October–only weeks before the Ridgedale Avenue burglaries–for a criminal trespass charge in Mercer County.
Clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, with his hands and feet tethered, Session appeared distraught as Sheriff’s Officers led him into the courtroom. He answered the judge’s questions with low, barely audible yes- and no responses and spent much of the 15-minute proceeding with his tall, athletic frame hunched over a desk, shielding his face from photographers.
Pool video by Bob Karp / Daily Record
Morris County Sheriff James Gannon and Undersheriff Mark Spitzer attended the hearing.
Authorities say Session was burglarizing the victim’s apartment on Thursday, when she returned home from shopping just after 11 a.m. She told police the assailant demanded her credit card and ATM pin, smashed her cell phone and iPad, “attacked” her with a stun gun, tied her up, and sexually assaulted her. The woman sustained injuries to her wrist, finger and ankles.
Cell phone information and surveillance video from the crime area showing a man matching the victim’s description and a Chevy Tahoe “with distinctive chrome rims,” led investigators to Session, who was arrested on Friday, according to court records.
He is charged with three counts of aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping (all first degree crimes), six counts of burglary and three counts of attempted burglary, among other crimes.
According to court records, Session confessed to breaking into three apartments on Ridgedale Avenue around Nov. 15, 2017, attempting to break into three more there, and burglarizing two Hill Street apartments on Dec. 5.
He told police that the victim surprised him during last week’s burglary, and admitted he bound her, and also that he was carrying a Taser stun gun. But he denied the rape, court records state. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 20, 2018.
On Tuesday, Morristown Police Chief Pete Demnitz responded to criticisms that he should have alerted the public to the burglary spree.
He told the town council that tenants of the burglarized buildings were notified, in keeping with concerns of officials and business leaders who over the years have frowned on wider publicity:
“….The business community, the Morristown Partnership, the Hyatt Hotel–they don’t want me to put out a press release for every burglary,” Demnitz said.
“It’s always a balance… It’s a decision that I have to make based on all the information that’s presented to me. I generally present it to my administration, and we make a decision in the best interests of everybody,” the Chief said.
That did not sit well with some readers.
“Residents should have been warned to watch for an unfamiliar Chevy Tahoe in their neighborhood/apartment complex. And who cares what the Hyatt Hotel wants?” commented a reader named Lisa.
If citizens had known about that vehicle, she suggested, “This could have turned out differently.”
A public meeting about burglary prevention and home security is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, at 6:30 pm in the Morristown town hall seniors center. Chief Demnitz and Mayor Tim Dougherty are scheduled to field questions.