Bellamy To Remain Home For The Holidays
Kareem Bellamy, the Rockaway man convicted of murder 14 years ago and then released by a Queens judge earlier this year, will spend the holidays at home with his mother, thanks to an adjournment of a hearing that may well put him back in prison, which set his next court date for January 5.
Bellamy, who must wear a monitoring ankle device wherever he goes, is fighting to stay out of prison after Rockaway resident Michael Green admitted in court on Thursday that he had falsified a taped "confession" stating that a person other than Bellamy had committed the crime for which he was convicted 14 years ago.
The central figure in this courtroom drama remains Green, who was granted immunity from prosecution by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, after perjuring himself in an earlier court hearing, testifying that the voice on the tape he had made was that of Levon "Ishmael" Melvyn, the man he pointed to as the actual killer of James Abbott on Beach 47 Street and Beach Channel Drive on April 9, 1994.
Green told Wave editor Howard Schwach two weeks ago that he had falsified the tape to "play" attorney Tom Hoffman for more than $6,000 that he got from Hoffman by claiming that he needed relocation money. Instead, Green reportedly used the money in Atlantic City.
Green added that neither the attorney nor private investigator Ed Hensen, an ex- Rockaway housing cop, had any knowledge that the tape had been faked until after Bellamy's release.
After the tape was provided to the court by Hoffman, Justice Joel Blumenfeld vacated Bellamy's conviction and set him free on bail in August, awaiting a decision on whether or not he would be tried again.
When Melvyn learned of the tape naming him as Abbott's murderer, however, he had his lawyer contact Brown to say that he was not the murderer and had never made statements to Green or anybody else admitting that he had killed anybody.
When prosecutors told Green about Melvyn's statement, Green admitted that the tape was bogus, as was another fake tape allegedly made by eyewitness Anna Simmons, pointing to Melvyn as the killer.
That admission led to the hearing last Thursday and Friday, in which Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal attempted to have Bellamy put back into prison without a new trial.
On Friday, Green said that he had actually made the tape with a friend, Jonathan Tatum, who was paid $15 by Green to pretend that he was Melvyn admitting to a 1994 murder in Rockaway.
Green told The Wave that he was angry at Melvyn for firing him from a job with a cleaning service and that Melvyn's name popped into his head when he thought of falsifying the tape.
Green said that he was angry about being called an "informer" by the media for making the tape about Melvyn and wanted everybody in Rockaway to know that he was no informer.
"[The media] put my life in danger, put my family's life in danger," Green told Schwach.
Although Melvyn denied having anything to do with Abbott's death, police reports from the time say that an eyewitness, Anna Simmons, who has since disappeared, pointed to Melvyn as one of the killers.
When asked about that by Blumenfeld, Melvyn blamed detective Henson, saying that his name appearing on a report was just bad police work spread by Henson, who was then a housing detective for PSA 9.
When The Wave interviewed Hensen earlier this year, however, the detective said that he never worked the case because it did not take place in a public housing complex, and that the case was worked by detectives from the 101 Precinct.
Melvyn contacted The Wave on Tuesday, angered that the media, including The Wave, had treated him unfairly. He said that he had nothing whatsoever to do with Abbott's murder.
"It's one thing for those other guys, the Times and them to write about me like that, but you're the local paper and you shouldn't do that."
He said that he was frightened when the story first broke in the daily papers and that he had lost his job at St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway because of the news stories.
"[Hoffman] knew that it was not my voice on the tape and yet he went ahead with using it," Melvyn said in a telephone interview. "[Hoffman] told Green to disappear and Green went to Atlantic City with the money that he gave him."
"Green made those phony tapes, the one supposedly of me and another of Simmons, and then they give him immunity because they want him to tell the truth, that I had nothing to do with it."
When Green first brought the fake tape to attorney Tom Hoffman, the district attorney's office declined to give him a polygraph test. Hoffman had one given to Green by a former FBI agent who is an expert in the field.
At the hearing on Friday, Green testified that he had beat the lie detector test by "remaining calm and collected." He admitted to beating several lie detector tests over the years.
"You go in there with your pulse beating at a normal speed - that's how you beat it," Green testified. "You just have to be calm and collected."
Green will be cross-examined by Bellamy's new defense counsel, Steven Silberblatt, a legal aid attorney appointed for him by Blumenfeld, when the hearing resumes on January 5 in Queens Supreme Court.
Silberblatt told The Wave that he has been defending criminals for 35 years and has never had a case like this one.
Silberblatt said that he believes that Green has little credibility either with the prosecution or with the court.
Nobody believes Mike Green. If his testimony is all the prosecution has going for it, then they are on shaky ground," Silberblatt told The Wave on Tuesday. "There is no explanation for Green coming forward in the first place, for telling the same story about Melvyn five times, some of them under oath, and then changing his testimony. I believe that he was telling the truth the first time, and that he is lying now."
He told the same story to Hensen, to Hoffman, to the law firm, during the lie detector test and then in open court before Bellamy was released," Silberblatt said. "He didn't decide to recant until Melvyn came and spoke with him and they went to Melvyn's lawyer."
He points to Green's testimony about how he beat the lie detector test as another flaw in the prosecution's case.
"It's ludicrous to believe that you can beat the test by relaxing," he added. "It is just beyond belief."
He says that, although he doesn't believe in making predictions, especially when there is only a judge and not a jury involved, he thinks that he is doing well.
"Blumenfeld did the right thing by overturning the conviction, even if Green had never brought the tape forward, he said. "Even if there was never a tape, it's clear that the evidence against Bellamy at the trial was skimpy at best."
"They dropped this case in my lap ker-plop just a few weeks ago, and I'm still playing catch-up," he added. "It is pretty clear that there was no fraud on the part of either Hoffman or Hensen. What this case will resolve at the end will be the issue of Bellamy's liberty, and even that will probably then go to an appeals court. This hearing will most likely not finally resolve that issue."