2010-01-15 / Front Page

Bellamy Gets New Trial

By Howard Schwach

Convicted murderer Kareem Bellamy will remain free pending a new trial in his 1995 conviction for the murder of James Abbott on Beach 47 Street on April 9, 1994, according to a ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenthal, on Thursday.

 

In July of 2008, 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 2008, 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.

Prosecutor Brad Leventhal had been pushing hard to send Bellamy back to prison without a new trial, based on the fact that the tape, the new evidence that freed the convicted man in the first place, was bogus.

Public Defender Steven Silberblatt argued that the evidence provided during the hearing, the bogus tape notwithstanding, proved that his client was innocent of the charges and should be given a new trial.

Blumenthal set no firm date for Bellamy’s new trial, although he set a control date of January 23, at which time the prosecutors will have to indicate whether or not they will appeal the decision..

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