Man Accused of Killing Imam Pleads Not Guilty

The man accused of fatally shooting a Queens imam and his friend pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder Thursday as his defense attorney said the imam may have been killed because he wasn't liked and suggested police may have planted evidence — a claim the New York Police Department (NYPD) denied.

Oscar Morel, 36, was arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on a five-count indictment handed up by a grand jury last week. The indictment includes one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the deaths of Imam Maulana Akonjee and his friend, Thara Uddin.

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