A man was convicted of gun crime murder of another man whom he personally knew. The murder occurred one Sunday of March 1975 at two o’clock in the morning. A woman, who is a sole nonparticipant eyewitness to the gun crime, lived in a one-family residence on the north side of the crime scene. A New York Criminal Lawyer said she was in her early forties and did not wear eyeglasses. During the week she was a government postal employee and had a part-time job delivering newspapers every Sundays.
One Sunday morning, the witness planned to arise at 2:00 A.M. and set her alarm clock accordingly. Just before the alarm went off, she heard a noise that sounded like a fire cracker but when she got up and looked, she saw what it was. She turned off the alarm and walked to her front door, a matter of only a few steps. The interior of the house was in complete darkness.
An automobile was parked right outside her house, on the north side of the street, facing west. Illumination was provided by a mercury vapor overhead streetlight. The car was parked under the light. The witness viewed the killing from about 80 feet away.
She recognized the gun man from having seen him in the neighborhood on several occasions. A New York Criminal Lawyer said she was at first reluctant to admit to the police that she had recognized him, for fear of reprisal, but finally did admit it and testified against the accused at the trial.
She testified that she saw an individual standing alongside of a car firing a gun. She then pointed out the accused in the courtroom. She also said that a few minutes later, after she had dressed, she went out and saw the victim lying dead in the street. She notified the police immediately. In the course of the police investigation, the accused, in a signed statement, admitted to the police that he was present at the scene during the murder. In his statement, however, he claimed another man was the killer but no such person was ever found.
The accused was convicted and when he appeared for sentence he claimed that a fellow inmate at the Nassau County Jail was the real murderer. The accused said he knew his fellow inmate committed the crime when it first happened but that the fellow inmate admitted his involvement only after the accused was found guilty.
At the hearing on the accused man’s application to set aside the judgment, it was incumbent upon him to prove by a prevalence of the evidence every fact essential to support the motion. The accused called his fellow inmate, who testified that he came upon the deceased who was shot, for whom he allegedly harbored resentment because of some recent unpleasantness between them. The deceased victim was in the company of the accused. The fellow inmate shot the deceased man but missed then again fired three shots that killed him. The fellow inmate thereupon left the scene by going west to Brush Hollow Road. The fellow inmate claimed he knew the accused from the street and the accused knew his fellow inmate in the same way.
When asked by the defense attorney why he was trying to free the accused from blame and to take the blame for the killing, the fellow inmate responded that all he wants to do is just tell the truth and if telling the truth gets him hung, he wants to die telling the truth.
Shortly after voicing his lofty sentiments and on cross-examination, the prosecutor elicited the fellow inmate’s criminal conviction record. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said that at the age of 43, with more than half of his adult life-time spent in jail, he had acquired convictions and sentences for grand larceny, three or four felony assaults, robbery and an attempted murder. He was in jail on an assault charge and his memory of the details of the killing incident and the geography of the scene was something less than convincing and at great variance with the testimony given by the witness and the statement of the accused himself.
As one example, the fellow inmate said that he came upon the deceased man’s car from the rear to the east. But at the trial, the homicide squad detective testified that he had been told by the accused that the man he mentioned had approached from the west. Then the fellow inmate said that after he shot the deceased man, the shot man fled to the west. Both the witness and the accused himself said he fled to the east, in which event he would have had to run right by the fellow inmate.
The fellow inmate didn’t know the color of his victim’s car, although it was bathed in a bright illumination. Nor did he know if the deceased man sported a beard at the time. But he claimed that after shooting at the accused once and at the deceased three times, two with telling effect, he left the scene by going west on Park Avenue to Brush Hollow Road, again at variance with the testimony of the others then concededly present.
The accused, testifying in his own behalf at the hearing, said that he never knew that his fellow inmate was the killer until the latter confessed. When asked to explain his statement that he knew his fellow inmate committed the murder when it first happened, the accused replied that the District Attorney was interpreting his statement incorrectly and reiterated that he never knew his fellow inmate did the shooting until he confessed.
Over intense objection, the court would not permit the District Attorney to examine the accused as to whether he saw his fellow inmate on the night of the murder. It was in accordance to its determination that any questions posed to the accused about the events on the day of the criminal act would violate his privilege against self-incrimination.
The accused set himself upon the horns of a dilemma. On two occasions, first in a signed statement to the police and second at the subject hearing, he had placed himself at the scene of the crime at the time of the crime. If he was there, then he must have seen what happened. First he said it was another man who committed the murder; and whether the man is factual or suppositious remains unknown and according to the fellow inmate it was him.
The fellow inmate had nothing to lose by coming forward with his seemingly noble gesture. As a practical matter, the District Attorney cannot dignify his testimony by taking any affirmative action against him. A New York Sex Crimes Lawyer said the jury had already proved the case against the accused before a jury beyond a reasonable doubt on eyewitness testimony. For the District Attorney to go before a Grand Jury to seek an indictment against the fellow inmate would lend verisimilitude to the fellow inmate’s testimony that the accused had nothing to do with the shooting of the deceased man.
The fellow inmate’s own testimony placed the accused at the scene, in a position to know of the fellow inmate’s purported involvement from the beginning. More significantly, the accused acknowledged prior to the hearing that he knew of his fellow inmate’s involvement when the crime first happened. Despite the inmate’s close proximity to the accused, the accused apparently made no effort to investigate his fellow inmate’s purported involvement.
The jury, at the trial of the indictment charging the accused with the crime of murder, had before it the testimony of the witness and the statements given by the accused to the police. They elected to believe the witness, who appeared as a disinterested witness. They accepted her testimony that there were only two persons at the murder scene, the slayer and the slain.
The story concocted by the accused and his fellow inmate transcends belief and shows a definite lack of due diligence in bringing the issue to the attention of the police authorities.
When people become victims of criminal acts, it would be a blessing to find a witness who would stand and give time and effort to make sure that those who committed the crime would be punished. But when witness’ testimonies are jeopardized due to other people’s false statements, Nassau County Criminal Lawyers together with Nassau County Arrest Attorneys can help you explore your options with regard to your legal actions.