On September 10, 1992, the area of east 213th Street and Bronxwood Avenue in the Bronx, New York was a hotbed of drug activity. Rival drug gangs competed with each other for the drug turf using guns and violence to hold their sales areas. On this night, two brothers who were in control of that particular area, were seated in the back of a BMW parked at the corner when they were executed (murder) by a man with a gun. Both brothers were killed in the attack.
The trial that ensued convicted the defendant of being responsible for their murders. That conviction was appealed by the defendant based on the contention that he was not the man who shot (gun crime) the brothers, a juror in the trial was related to him, and that the prosecutors engaged in misconduct. At the time of his initial trial, there were five witnesses that testified that they saw the defendant kill the brothers.
These witnesses who were also drug dealers, were arrested at different times before this appeal was filed. One of the main witnesses claims that he was continually harassed by the defendant who was attempting to get him to change his testimony. He presented letters that had been sent to him from the defendant and friends of the defendant that told him that he would be killed if he did not recant his testimony. Two of the five witnesses had already met violent ends that were not attributed directly to the defendant who was in prison. After receiving one such letter, the witness applied to be transferred to a different institution for fear of his life. However, when he was transferred, it was to the same institution where the defendant was housed. This created several tense situations as the defendant had opportunity to encounter the witness on several occasions. The defendant repeatedly claimed that it was the witness who had actually executed the brothers and that he was framed for the murders.
The defendant also reported to his defense counsel that his mother and his aunt had recognized the husband who was estranged from his wife, who was the sister of the defendant’s mother. The husband was on the jury. The relatives claimed that the husband was estranged from the family and that the defendant had lived in the husband’s house for one year about twenty-five years earlier. The defendant stated that because this man was on the jury, that he had not received a fair sentence. A jury is supposed to be a jury of your peers. However, if the occasion arises where a relative of the defendant is on a jury, he or she is usually removed from that jury pool. When a jury is being chosen, they are asked if they are relatives of the defendant or if they have any information about the defendant that could prejudice the case. This juror did not proclaim that he was related to the defendant. In fact, it was just the opposite, he claimed that he did not know the defendant at all. He continued to state that he had not known that he was related to the defendant until he was approached about the alleged impropriety of being on the jury. He stated that because he was unaware of the relation that it had not prejudiced his decision in any way. The court was left to decide if the relationship was so close as to cause the defendant to have received a prejudiced trial. They decided that it was not.
The Supreme Court upheld the defendant’s conviction and dismissed his motion to have his verdict overturned. They stated that there was no evidence that any one else committed the crimes that the defendant was charged with. His allegations of impropriety in the prosecutor’s office did not hold weight.
At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, their Bronx criminal lawyers are ready to help you in several convenient offices located throughout New York and the Bronx area. Our Bronx drug possession Attorneys will fight for your rights in the event that you need representation.