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Defendant Contends Eyewitness Testimony is Incorrect


Cases that involve drug crimes often include violence. In some cases, this violence is more severe than others are. Few people will not admit that the violence of a criminal exploit is directly relative to the amount of money that the criminal stands to gain. A New York DWI Lawyer said in drug crimes, a criminal often stands to profit huge amounts of money. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the correlation between the modern prohibition against drugs and the historical prohibition against alcohol. Both have caused huge spikes in crime rates and violence. Whenever there is a market for a substance, someone will supply it. If that substance is illegal, the price to obtain it is higher because the supplier is shouldering substantial risk. This is nothing new. John Hancock was a convicted tea smuggler. During the civil war, many privateers smuggled products into the south through the blockades of the ports. Smugglers are nothing new. They are simply privateers who are attempting to increase their income at the expense of people who are willing to pay an inflated price for an illegal substance.

With drugs that are highly addictive, the smuggler or supplier’s income is virtually secure. A New York DWI Lawyer said it is in their best monetary interest to peddle an addictive substance to ensure that the customer will continue to come back and purchase more. In the 1980s, the ability to smuggle drugs into this country was incredible. There were famous drug lords in Bolivia and other areas of South America and Mexico. These men were ruthless and their drug cartels became their family businesses. Few were better known than the Escobar’s.

On January 26, 1985, a woman was standing outside of the ladies’ room in the Extasis bar in Queens County, New York. The music was loud, and she thought she heard firecrackers going off inside of the mens’ room. As she stood in the cramped hallway, she saw a man open the mens’ room door with one hand while holding a handgun in his other. While she watched, she saw him fire two more shots into the mens’ room. The man ran out of the bar. The woman looked into the bathroom and saw the body of another man on the floor bleeding from gunshot wounds. It was later determined that he had been involved with drug trafficking with the Escobar family.

Detectives began an investigation into the homicide from the bar. By March 6, 1985, they had enough probable cause to get a warrant for the arrest of Luis Escobar. They waited for Escobar on a street in Queens County. When the officers approached him, he dropped the duffel bag that he was carrying and ran back into the building. A Nassau County DWI Lawyer said that after a foot chase that ended in Escobar’s arrest inside of an apartment that he was known to frequent, officers discovered a large amount of drug paraphernalia. They also found the book keeping ledgers for the Escobar cartel detailing each of the drug transactions made and the amount of money that was paid.

Outside of the apartment, officers recovered the duffel bag and found that inside was more than one million dollars in cash. The cash was divided into neat bundles and labeled according to the purchaser and payment made. The money and notes matched notations in the book keeping ledgers. When the detectives reviewed the book keeping ledgers, they discovered that the victim had owed the Escobar around $137,500 for the purchase of cocaine. Cocaine is known to be a highly addictive drug favored by South American drug cartels.

The evidence was growing. Luis Escobar was indicted for murder, drug trafficking, and other felony crimes. The following items were admitted into evidence at the trial: One million dollars + in cash, ledgers, paraphernalia, and other evidence. This evidence was used to prove that Escobar knew and conducted business with the homicide victim from the bar.

The defense team rallied. They challenged the eyewitness from the bar’s identification of Escobar. They claimed that since he was wearing a disguise at the time that he was in the bar, she could not possibly identify him as the man who she saw shoot the victim. They further claimed that the eyewitness could not possibly have seen Escobar shoot the victim because there was a friend of Escobar’s who testified differently. He testified that Escobar was not at the bathroom at all, but was instead at a table in the bar with him when the shooting happened. He also testified that he had seen one man exit the bathroom after the shooting and that it was not Escobar. On March 10, 1986, the Supreme Court of Queens County found Luis Escobar guilty of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

Luis Escobar appealed his conviction on the grounds that he could not be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This contention was based on his interpretation that the eyewitness testimony was impossible and that the eyewitness could not be considered an eyewitness because she never saw a shot enter the body of the victim. The Supreme Court found that this concept was not believable. They maintained that what the victim saw was clear and strong. The fact that a man stood in the doorway of the bathroom and fired a gun in the direction of the interior of the bathroom and the victim, who was the only person in the bathroom when rescuers arrived, was shot with a gun. The justices find that it is a logical progression, that the person firing the gun from the doorway shot the dead man in the bathroom. They determined that she did not have to see the actual bullet enter his body, to believe that she saw the person commit the murder, and that the person who fired the gun was Escobar. They further determined that the credibility of the witness was for the jury to determine and that the jury determined that her testimony was credible.

The defense team also felt that the evidence of the cash, ledgers and loan amount to the victim was not appropriate and was exculpatory to the murder case. They felt that it was a completely separate crime on a separate date which should have been tried separately. The Court disagreed. Since, the loan to the victim was $137,500. It showed that there was a reason for the loan in that the victim was involved in a drug trafficking enterprise with Luis Escobar. The evidence, therefore, served a dual purpose to establish a motive and to provide the evidence to support the drug trafficking offense.

The Justices hearing the appeal found that the evidence was properly admitted. They found that it was not admitted for the simple act of proving that Escobar was a criminal, but rather to show a motive for the crime of murder. The additional benefit that it proved the drug crime was just icing on the cake. The justices found that Escobar’s remaining contentions about his trial not being fair are without merit and the verdict of guilty is upheld.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates Queens Criminal Lawyers, have convenient offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. Your freedom is our concern. Our Queens Drug Lawyer can provide you with advice to guide you through difficult situations.

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