UNION TOWNSHIP (Union) — A man convicted in the heinous slaying of a township deli owner in 2009 will get a new trial because prosecutors kicked out too many potential jurors who were black.

Daivon K. Brinson, 28, is serving a 24-year prison sentence in the murder of Mohinder Singh, an Indian immigrant who owned the Three Stooges Deli.

But a three-judge appellate panel on Wednesday threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial.

Brinson was found guilty in 2009 of aggravated manslaughter, murder, and third-degree possession of a knife. The jury acquitted him of felony murder and first-degree robbery.

Brinson protested his innocence, saying a third man had been responsible for the homicide, and that he had been injured trying to intervene in the attack.

Singh was stabbed at least 13 times in the store, and his body was discovered by a customer. Police followed a bloody trail out of the store to an abandoned house, where they found the murder weapon and a bloody jacket.

Brinson appealed his conviction based on the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Batson v. Kentucky, and the state Supreme Court ruling in State v. Gilmore. These cases prohibit prosecutors from excusing potential jurors — a process known as a peremptory challenge — based solely on their race, ethnicity or gender.

Before the trial, Brinson's defense attorney objected after the prosecutor's fifth peremptory challenge resulted in a third African-American being booted from the jury panel.

The trial judge ruled that the challenges were not race-driven because the prosecutor explained one of the black men was excused because he was related to someone accused of a crime.

But the appellate panel said Wednesday that the judge failed to follow the process for gauging the constitutionality of the challenge, and that there was no explanation on the record for why the other two black jurors had been excused.

It was not clear from the record what the final racial makeup of the jury was.

Brinson's appeal was handled by the state Public Defender's Office.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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