Brown Will Appeal Bellamy Decision
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown used unusually strong language to categorize the Thursday decision of Judge Joel Blumenfeld allowing convicted murderer Kareem Bellamy to remain free while awaiting a new trial.
“[It is] an affront to the court and all law-abiding people that such duplicity had been used to unlock a jail cell door,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “Today’s ruling compounds the injustice and will be vigorously appealed.”
Brown’s ire was in response to Blumenfeld’s long-awaited decision in the Bellamy case, in which the acting Supreme Court Judge decided that there was sufficient new evidence brought out during the hearing to warrant a new trial.
“This court, after carefully evaluating all the witnesses at the hearing on the people’s motion to renew and reargue this court’s June 27, 2008 decision and after reading the written submissions of the parties, the court denies the motion to vacate that decision. Accordingly, the court adheres to that decision and the defendant’s conviction remains vacated and a new trial is ordered.”
Brown argued that the only basis for the original order to vacate the conviction was a tape brought to the court by Bellamy’s attorney.
“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 had been convicted,” Brown said. “The people presented overwhelming proof that the tape was fraudulent and that the testimony of the defendant’s ‘informant’ who purported to have made the tape was completely perjurious.”
Blumenfeld, however, said that the hearing brought forth other new evidence that was never available to the original defense counsel and might have caused a different jury decision had it been presented in the original trial.
For example, Blumenfeld said in his decision, an examination of the original DD 5 reports from the detective working the case revealed that police had received a phone call from a Rockaway woman named Anna Simmons a few days after the murder of James Abbott in 1994. Simmons told the detective that she overheard two members of the “Regulators” gang speaking about killing Abbott. She identified the two men as Levon “Ishmael” Melvin and Rodney “Turk” Harris, but police never followed up on her report and never even questioned the two men. Simmons has since disappeared.
Melvin, one of the men named by Simmons, was purportedly the voice on the fraudulent tape made by Michael Green.
Green told investigators that Melvin had murdered Abbott because the victim had been fooling around with his girlfriend, identified in court papers as Yolanda “Yoo Yoo” Dove.
Blumenfeld credits the testimony of witnesses and the original DD 5 with giving credibility to Green’s statement about his discussion with Melvin even though Green perjured himself during the hearing by stating that the tape was real.
“What is left is the fact that unprompted and unpaid, Green initially approached [Private Detective Ed] Henson and [Ex-FBI Agent Joe] O’Brien and named as perpetrators of the Abbott murder the same two people that Anna Simmons did six days after the murder.
The court also credits his testimony at the original hearing that Melvin did make an admission to him because he was furious with Harris for talking to investigators and not telling him,” Blumenfeld wrote in his decision. “The court rejects Melvin’s testimony that this conversation never took place and that Green made this up because Melvin fired Green from a job.”
Blumenfeld also cited Melvin’s claim that the Regulators were a dance group, not a gang, stating evidence that members of the gang, including some involved in the murder, had been tried under federal statute for Enterprise Corruption.
All in all, Blumenfeld ruled, there was sufficient testimony to warrant a new trial.
The Wave and its editor, Howard Schwach, are cited a number of times in the judge’s decision.
“The court still believes that [Green’s] fear of Melvin and the community knowing that he was an informant was genuine. Green says as much in the tape in evidence of his interview with Howard Schwach of The Wave newspaper,” he wrote. “As he explained his lies to Howard Schwach, editor of The Wave, a community newspaper in the Rockaways, money is the root of all evil.”
Again, when discussing Green’s desire that the community not think of him as a snitch, Blumenfeld wrote, “His concern in the area was so great that he subjected himself to a recorded interview with the local newspaper, The Wave, in which he stated many times that he didn’t want to be seen as an informant and made the point of apologizing to Melvin and his entire family.
His statement that he wasn’t an informant was so important to him that he repeated it ad nauseam and made sure that the editor would put it into the paper.”
Schwach’s taped interview with Green was entered into evidence at the hearing.
Bellamy’s court-appointed attorney, Ste-ven Silberblatt, told The Wave on Thursday afternoon that he was happy for the decision, but expected that the District Attorney would appeal.
Both sides will be back in court on January 23 to present papers as to the next step in the case.
Bail for Bellamy remained in effect.
After making his decision from the bench, Blumenfeld turned to Bellamy and told him, “This isn’t personal. I just call them as I see them.”