Bellamy Decision Set For Next Week
On January 14, give or take a day or two, Kareem Bellamy will find out whether or not he has to go back to prison to serve the remainder of his 1995 conviction for the murder of James Abbott on Beach 47 Street on April 9, 1994.
In July of last year, Queens Supreme Court Judge Joel Blumenthal vacated Bellamy’s conviction because the court was provided with new evidence that pointed to the guilt of another man named Levon (Ishmael) Melvin in the stabbing murder.
At the time that the new evidence, which was in the form of a tape that was purported to be the voice of Melvin admitting to a Rockaway murder on that date, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, “The sole basis for the court’s setting aside the defendant’s conviction was a recorded conversation proffered by the defense, which purported to be between a defense witness and a third party, in which the third party confessed to having stabbed the victim – the crime for which the defendant was convicted.”
In mid-August of 2009, Judge Blumenthal released Bellamy from jail pending a new trial.
But the informant who provided the tape to defense lawyer Thomas Hoffman and private detective Ed Hensen has since told authorities in the Queens District Attorney’s office that he staged the recording “to create false evidence because I was paid thousands of dollars by the attorneys for Kareem Bellamy.”
Since that time, the Bellamy case has taken many twists and turns.
Charges and counter-charges have been made by prosecutors; by Michael Green, the man who made the tape; by Melvin, who detectives investigating the crime fifteen years ago thought might have been involved, and whom Green implicated as the murderer on the now-infamous tape; by prosecutor Brad Leventhal, who has accused Hoffman and Hensen of feeding Green information about Melvin to make the phony tape; and by Hoffman and Hensen, who say they had no knowledge that the tape was bogus until after Bellamy was released.
Steven Silberblatt, the Legal Aid attorney assigned to Bellamy, told The Wave that he has hopes that Bellamy will not have to go directly back to prison.
“Bellamy is a sweetie-pie,” Silberblatt said. “He hasn’t even spit on the street in the time he has been out. He is not angry about what happened to him, about being in jail for 14 years for a crime he did not commit. He makes a very sympathetic defendant.”
“This is all up to [Judge] Blumenthal now,” he added. “The prosecutors filed their final papers in November. If they rule against us, then Kareem goes right back to jail. If we win, I suppose there will be an appeal and a decision at that level.”
He is hoping that Blumenthal sides with Bellamy and orders a new trial on the 1994 murder.
Meanwhile, as Bellamy struggles with the thought of going back to prison, he has faced several personal setbacks.
In December, his mother suffered a heart attack and on December 2 his apartment at 51-24 Beach Channel Drive suffered damage from a fire. Fire officials say there was heavy fire in his apartment and it took 12 fire units about 25 minutes to knock the fire down. Nobody suffered major injuries, fire officials say.
Silberblatt told The Wave this week that he would be “bitterly disappointed” if Blumenthal sent Bellamy back to prison without a new trial.
“It should be for a jury to hear the tape, to decide if it is bogus or not and to hear all the evidence,” he said. “We essentially proved that Kareem had nothing to do with the killing. There are two murderers out there on the streets, and the DA seems to be not interested in looking for them. He is doing nothing to find the right people.”