Fred Neulander, the former senior rabbi at a Cherry Hill synagogue, who was convicted of plotting the 1994 murder of his wife, has lost another legal appeal.
A state appeals court Thursday rejected a request to overturn Neulander's murder conviction. He is serving a life sentence.
Neulander was found guilty of hiring two hit men to kill his wife, Carol. She was bludgeoned in their Cherry Hill home on Nov. 1, 1994.
In a statement, Robert English, a spokesman for Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo, said: "The opinion only reaffirms the jury's sound belief in a guilty verdict in this case."
Monique Moyse of Montclair, Neulander's court-appointed appeals lawyer, was not available for comment Thursday. A message left with the Public Defender's Office was not returned.
Neulander was once the respected leader of Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill. Prosecutors said he solicited his wife's killing because their marriage was hindering his affair with Elaine Soncini, then a local radio personality.
Len Jenoff and Paul Daniels, the admitted hit men in the slaying, testified at Neulander's trial that they fatally beat Carol Neulander on orders from her husband. Both pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter charges and agreed to testify against Neulander.
The scene was staged to look like a robbery. It was eventually revealed as that of a killing for hire when Jenoff confessed his role in 2000 to an Inquirer reporter.
At Neulander's trial, the defense sought to discredit Jenoff and tried to convince the jury that Jenoff and Daniels acted on their own. Neulander did not testify.
Neulander was convicted on murder charges in 2002. The jury could not agree on the death penalty and he was sentenced to life imprisonment with 33 years of parole ineligibility.
Jenoff and Daniels have completed their prison sentences. Both were released from custody in 2014.
Neulander has filed a number of appeals that have been rejected by the courts. He has argued that he should get a new trial.
In the latest filing, decided Thursday by a two-judge panel in a 28-page ruling, Neulander's lawyers raised seven points seeking to have his conviction and sentence thrown out.
His lawyer argued that errors were made at Neulander's trial and that he was denied effective counsel.
Among the defense arguments was a claim that the prosecutor failed to advise Neulander that a key witness "had been offered favorable treatment from the state for his testimony."
The appeal also contended that the trial judge had a conflict of interest and admitted hearsay evidence, that Neulander's counsel at a post-conviction proceeding mishandled the issue of a trial witness' testimony on shivah protocol, and that those and other missteps denied Neulander the right to a fair trial.
Neulander argued that trial testimony from Beverly Weiss, a member of the M'kor Shalom congregation, was improper and suggested "a lack of remorse" on his part.
According to testimony cited by the appeals court, Weiss testified at Neulander's trial that he sat comfortably in a black leather chair at his wife's shivah. Weiss said a person in mourning is supposed to sit on a hard chair to feel uncomfortable, according to Jewish custom.
Neulander argued that the personal-opinion testimony by Weiss should have been inadmissible. Such testimony about the "inner workings" of a religion should have been provided by an expert, he said.
The court disagreed on every point raised in the appeal.
"Defendant argues that the cumulative effect of the errors he complains of resulted in a manifest injustice, which justifies reversal of his conviction," the appeals court wrote. "The contention is without sufficient merit to warrant discussion."