2009-04-24 / Top Stories

Local: Critical Witness Doesn't Exist

Bellamy Case 'Soap Opera' Begins Anew May 19
By Howard Schwach

Levon "Ishmael" Melvin at an earlier court date. Levon "Ishmael" Melvin at an earlier court date. When Kareem Bellamy returns to court on May 19 to find out whether he will remain free or go back to prison, he will bring with him what some call a "Soap Opera" and others call a "Freak Show."

The questions abound.

Is the tape that was used to get Bellamy's original conviction overturned real or bogus?

If the tape is bogus, did attorney Thomas Hoffman or private investigator Ed Henson feed information to Mike Green so that the tape would sound authentic?

When was Mike Green telling the truth? Was it when he told the court the tape was authentic or when, later on, he told the same court that he made up the whole thing?

Is Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal refusing to investigate the charges that Bellamy is innocent of the 1994 murder simply because he does not want to admit his department made a mistake, as charged by the defense team?

Was Levon "Ishamael" Melvin really the killer of James Abbott in 1994, as indicated on the tape?

Did the detectives who had the case in 1994 arrest Bellamy because he was handy and an easy suspect, as charged by Bellamy's defense team?

Where is Anna Simmons, a critical witness who allegedly told the detectives in 1994 that Melvin was involved, and then disappeared for 15 years?

The questions continue to mount. The latest, according to Melvin, who has a long history with the law and no longer lives in New York City, is whether or not Anna Simmons ever existed.

Melvin, in a long interview with The Wave this week, claims that she is a figment of Ed Henson's imagination.

"Anna Simmons does not exist." Melvin said at the newspaper's offices on Tuesday. "Henson had a thing for me that went way back. I think he had one of his crackhead snitches call the detectives and tell them that Melvin was involved, so they put me into their reports, their DD-5s. When Simmons didn't show up for an appointment on the next day, they went looking for her, but never found her - never." Melvin says that the private detective, who now operates from a Florida base but was for 20 years a housing detective in Rockaway, knows his voice well, and should have known right away that it was not he on the suspect tape that got Bellamy out of prison.

Melvin admits that he knew Abbott and his family, and that he even went to his funeral in 1994, but he denies that he had any reason to kill Abbott and that he had anything at all to do with the murder. Melvin says that sometime in the 70s a cab driver was killed in the 100 Precinct and that Henson, who was then a detective for PSA 9 - the city's housing police, called the precinct and told them that he has something to do with the killing.

Melvin says that he was brought in and questioned for six hours because the cops kept telling him, "we know you did it."

When the real killer was turned in by his mother later that day, Melvin says, he was released. "Henson used me then, just like he did by inventing Simmons in the Bellamy killing. He tried to get me involved when I had nothing to do with it."

While The Wave was not able to contact Henson for this story because his phone numbers are no longer in service, the private detective told The Wave previously that he had nothing against Melvin and that he knows that Simmons exists. "I know that she is real," he said. "I know her family, her brother, and I have spoken with them."

Henson said earlier this year that he still believes that the controversial tape is real and that Melvin is the murderer.

He said that he never had anybody call the detectives and say that she was Anna Simmons and that he never passed any information to Mike Green for him to use on the tape.

"I was in the Edgemere projects, and Mike Green came up to me and told me he knew who killed Abbott," he said. "That was my one contact with him." Melvin, however, says that Henson set up the whole scenario to make it look as if this was a chance encounter, when it was a plot to free Bellamy by making it look like Melvin did it. "I think that Mike spoke to Henson earlier, to set the whole thing up," he said. "How could he come here in two days and get what other detectives could not get in 15 years?"

Henson denies that he ever helped Green. "I didn't lie to help a killer," he told ADA Brad Leventhal when he was questioned in December. "For you to even have the audacity to say that I perpetrated a fraud against the court is disgusting. You have to be smoking crack to think this."

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