“Tell my mother I’m sorry I hurt her,” Khari Noerdlinger asked his attorney to tell his mother, Rachel, from jail.
Headlines once again were plastered in local mainstream newspapers about the former City Hall aide and her son. The 19-year-old college student was the victim of a vicious attack and is being unfairly charged with manslaughter after defending himself. He has pled not guilty.
Nordlinger allegedly fatally stabbed 16-year-old Savion Lewallen as he was being attacked by Lewallen and four other people, who were armed with a bat and a machete.
The incident occurred on Old River Road in Edgewater, N.J., at approximately 10:30 p.m. Sunday, right in front of Noerdlinger’s home.
Kevensky Lubin, Mirleny Tremols, Richard Jean Pierre and Calim Gaspard have been named as the four other suspects involved in the incident. In an act of self-defense, Nordlinger stabbed Lewallen with a knife in his femoral artery, a critical artery in the thigh that supplies blood to the lower limb.
“He was being jumped by five people armed with a machete and a baseball bat,” said Noerdlinger’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman. “They beat him, hit him in the face and the back. He did what any other human being would do if they were being attacked—defended himself. Any fair jury would see that if they were being beaten with a machete and baseball bat, they would do anything to survive.”
Nordlinger faces aggravated manslaughter charges and is being held in a Bergen County jail with bail set at $500,000. Litchman is headed back to court on Thursday to get the bail lowered.
The four other suspects, who are members of the Bloods gang, are being held with bail set at $750,000.
“What does that say about them,” Litchman asked. “They are more of a danger than Khari is, yet he’s the one charged with manslaughter.”
Prosecutors have accused Noerdlinger of being a drug dealer, who was being attacked over drug money he owed, which his mother and attorney maintain is not true.
Litchman said his mother is “devastated” by the ordeal.
“She’s strong, somebody who has dealt with tragedy before and she’s holding up pretty well, I would say,” Litchman remarked.
Since the incident, the Nordlingers have received death threats via phone, text and social media.
Nordlinger’s work in the community and his activism are a far cry from what prosecutors are making him out to be. He’s participated in the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Youth Movement and NAN Youth Huddle activities. Noerdlinger has also appeared on panels at NAN conventions.
“I am praying for all involved,” Sharpton told the Amsterdam News. “Rachel has worked with us at the National Action Network for 15 years, before she went on to First Lady Chirlaine McCray and now Mercury, and she still works with us. I have known Khari since he was a child, and I have always known him to be a sensitive and reflective young man as I watched him grow up. We are very prayerful, and will stay in prayer with the family.”
A full-time college student at Bergen County Community College, Noerdlinger is studying music production, with aspirations of becoming a performance artist and working in the entertainment industry.
At one point, he had a promising football career. However, because of an injury, those dreams were cut short. Noerdlinger currently has metal plates holding up his eye socket, as well as screws in his shoulder.
The child of a single mother, with whom he has lived his entire life, Noerdlinger recently interned with business executive, entrepreneur and news commentator Michael Skolnik at the website Global Grind. He also worked at La Marina Restaurant in Inwood.
As part of his community work, Noerdlinger worked for the anti-violence organization LifeCamp, headed by Erica Ford.