2011-07-01 / Top Stories

DA: Won't Give Up On Bellamy

Wants Convicted Murderer Back In Prison
By Howard Schwach

Kareem Bellamy after being released from prison. Kareem Bellamy after being released from prison. Queens prosecutors say they won’t stop trying to reinstate the conviction of accused murderer Kareem Bellamy, who was set free based on new evidence that turned out to be fake.

Last week, an appeals court backed Queens Supreme Court Judge Joel Blumenfeld, who threw out the conviction of Bellamy, who spent 14 years in prison for a deadly stabbing he says he didn’t commit.

Queens prosecutors who work for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, though, say they plan to take the case to the state’s highest court in an attempt to put Bellamy back behind bars.

A jury found Bellamy, 43, guilty of the 1994 stabbing death of James Abbott in Far Rockaway.

He’s been free on $150,000 bail since 2008, when Blumenfeld vacated the conviction.

Blumenfeld sided with Bellamy’s defense team after it put forth an informant who claimed he’d spoken to someone named Ishmael who confessed to the Abbott murder.

Bellamy, center, with the two detectives who found the evidence that freed him. Bellamy, center, with the two detectives who found the evidence that freed him. The informant provided a tape-recording of that conversation, which was revealed to be a fake after Blumenfeld had already ruled.

Prosecutors tried to get him to reverse his ruling, claiming the defense tried to deceive the court, but the judge refused.

A four-judge Appellate Division panel upheld Blumenfeld’s decision in May. It said the jury might have acquitted Bellamy if it heard the informant’s testimony and the tape.

“A reasonable jury could find, as the Supreme Court did here, that the informant’s original unsolicited implication of Ishmael was truthful, regardless of the defendant’s later recantation of those statements,” the panel wrote.

Court officials say that the highest court has the option of hearing the appeal or not.

If they do not take the case, then the lower court decision stands, and Brown has to decide whether or not to retry Bellamy in the face of new information that could show that he did not commit the crime.

If they do take the appeal, then the highest court’s decision regarding the appeal will be delivered at the September court date.

Bellamy’s proponents, who speculate that the Court of Appeals will not take the case, say that he is living in Rockaway with relatives and seeking employment.

Bellamy’s public defender, Steve Silberblatt, thinks that forcing a new trial would not be in anybody’s best interests.

“It is hard to believe that taxpayers’ money would be well-spent in pursuing a new trial,” Silberblatt added. “But it is their right to retry. That the DA is pushing all out to maintain the guilty verdict, to me, is pure vanity.”

Detective Ed Henson, who first turned over the new evidence that pointed to another killer, thinks that the DA will “try and save face” in the light of the decision and say that Bellamy can’t be retried.

The high court will issue a decision on the case on September 27.

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