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Former Heights Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Murder [UPDATED]

First court appearance for man accused of killing Heights native John Amendola

UPDATE 3:40 p.m. - Scott Smith, the former Hasbrouck Heights police officer , pleaded not guilty Thursday in his first court appearance.

Smith, in shackles and wearing an orange jumpsuit, did not speak during the arraignment in state Superior Court in Hackensack. The courtroom was full of supporters for the Amendola family. Friends surrounded Michael Amendola, the victim's twin brother, showering him with hugs and support before the court appearance began in front of Judge Liliana S. De Avila-Silebi. Family members and friends did not wish to comment in regard to Smith’s plea.

Smith’s attorney Robert Stahl commented outside the courthouse that it is “very early in the case” and no one should make any judgments at this time. He called Smith a “good individual” and referred to his former role as a police officer in Hasbrouck Heights.

Stahl added that Smith is on disability and claims he was injured on the job in a car accident when he was on the . Stahl would not comment in regard to claims that Smith has used drugs and would not offer any details as to the reason behind the argument that authorities allege the two men had which led to the death of Amendola last weekend.

The 39-year old Amendola was found stabbed to death Sunday in his Wood-Ridge home. Authorities have said Smith, 33, was a longtime friend. The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has reported that Smith was socializing at Amendola’s house during the early morning hours on Sunday when the two got into an argument and Smith allegedly stabbed Amendola “multiple times with a knife that he carried regularly on his person.”

Smith was charged with first degree murder, second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and third degree hindering apprehension.

The case is expected to go before the Grand Jury. No dates have been set. Smith is being held on $2 million bail.

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