A state appeals court panel has upheld the conviction of a woman serving three decades behind bars for the 2011 shooting death of her then-boyfriend’s wife in Boonton.
Antionette Stephen, 38, will remain in prison at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Hunterdon County after a two-judge panel in the New Jersey Appellate Court declined her pleas to introduce evidence she says prove her attorneys poorly represented her. Stephen pleaded guilty to murder in 2013 and tested against the man with whom she was having an affair, Kashif Parvaiz, during his 2015 trial. He was sentenced to life.
Parvaiz was convicted of scheming with Stephen, a Massachusetts resident and one of several women he had seen, to shoot his wife, Nazish Noorani, 27, while he walked with Noorani and their son on Aug. 6, 2011 on Cedar Street. An appeals court in 2018 upheld Parvaiz’s life sentence, rejecting his arguments his sentence was too excessive due to a violation of his Constitutional right to remain silent.
Stephen argued her attorneys at the time of her guilty plea, who are now retired public defenders, failed to advise her that she would face mandatory deportation to India, her home country. Stephen is not a United States citizen but legally entered the United States with a green card and because he was convicted of an aggravated felony, under state law it is grounds for deportation.
A request for comment from the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender was not immediately returned.
Stephen was advised of the possible immigration consequences and was advised by her attorneys she had the right to seek an immigration expert, but Stephen declined, the judges wrote in the Feb. 9 decisions.
While the Supreme Court made it clear an attorney’s performance would be considered “deficient” if they failed to tell a noncitizen client they were facing mandatory deportation, the judges said it was clear Stephen was aware of the consequences.
The court appeals declined to consider Stephen’s claims that had her attorneys properly advised her of her “mandatory” deportation, she would have rejected her plea deal and had gone to trial. Stephen was given the mandatory minimum sentence for murder by pleading guilty and testing for the state. Had she gone to trial, she faced life in prison without the possibility of parole, the judges wrote.
The brazen and at times bizarre case played out during Parvaiz’ trial, where it was alleged he paid practitioners who studied “black magic” to help him make his wife disappear, take her own life or have an accidental death, according to an email read during his trial. Stephen admitted she shot and killed Noorani, but described herself as a “slave” to Parvaiz and told jurors he had convinced her his wife was a “greedy, neglectful mother” to the couple’s two young sons.
Parvaiz was shot in the leg during Stephen’s ambush in a scheme he concocted to lie to police that he and his wife were targeted in an anti-Muslim attack during the Ramadan holiday, although his story purportedly fell apart as investigators continued investigating and when Stephen admitted she pulled the trigger under his orders.
Stephen is eligible for possible parole release from prison in 2041, when he will be 57 years old. Parvaiz, who is serving his sentence at New Jersey State Prison, the state’s only maximum security complex, will be 91 years old when he is eligible for possible parole release in 2077, inmate records show.
Lori Comstock can be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.
This article originally appeared on Morristown Daily Record: Boonton NJ murder case upheld by state appeals court