The New York Criminal Law Blog

October 2010 Archives

Dennis Piters Cleared from Gang Assault Charges

A group of Latin teenage boys, who called themselves the Latin King Goonies, brutally attacked, sodomized, and burned a Bronx man earlier this month because the victim was gay. The 30-year-old Bronx man, along with two 17-year-old victims, was violently beaten in a rundown apartment in Morris Heights.

NY police arrested eleven suspects and charged them with gang assault, but the New York Daily News reported four of the teens have been cleared from any charges. The latest teenager released from jail is Dennis Piters, 17. The family of the Bronx man was incredibly upset, to say the least, when the District Attorney' office stated there was "insufficient evidence" against Piters.

Common Defenses to A NY Criminal Charge

There are a few common defenses often used against a criminal charge, although each NY criminal case is different. The most common defenses any NY criminal defense lawyer may use fall under two categories:

  • "I didn't do it," and
  • "I did it, but I shouldn't be held responsible."

One of the most basic defenses to any criminal charge is proving "you didn't do it". Until a defendant is proven guilty, the U.S. legal system assumes he or she is innocent. This means a judge or jury must think you are innocent until they have been shown otherwise.

Radames Ramos Caught With Drugs After Hit-and-Run

25-year-old Radames Ramos was involved in a hit-and-run in the Bronx that led New York Police to catch him in an unrelated drug crime. According to the New York Daily News, authorities arrested Ramos and charged him for leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury and criminal possession of marijuana.

Police reported Radames Ramos ran into a 42-year-old pedestrian while driving through Webster Avenue and East 189th Street in Fordham. Ramos quickly drove away from the scene, leaving the critically injured pedestrian on the road. A witness saw Ramos speed off in a Kia Sedan and made a note of the license plate number. The victim was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, and is still under critical condition.

The Right to Counsel in New York

A New York criminal defendant's right to an attorney is found in the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It requires the "assistance of counsel" for the accused "in all criminal prosecutions," which means a defendant in New York has the constitutional right to have a New York criminal defense attorney represent him or her during a trial.

The government will appoint a lawyer to handle a criminal case without financially charging the defendant if he or she cannot afford to pay for an attorney. In spite of that, some people may not recognize how a defense attorney can help a person facing criminal charges. The specific tasks of a defense lawyer depend on the nature of the case and the charges, but the attorney's role is incredibly integral to almost every criminal case.

Horace Moore Sentenced to Prison for Killing Edwin Thomas

A Brooklyn criminal court judge sentenced gang member Horace Moore, 22, with twenty years to life for the violent death of MTA bus driver Edwin Thomas. According to the New York Daily News, Moore stabbed the victim's heart with a switchblade after beating a $2 fare on the B46 bus in Bedford-Stuyvesant and demanding a transfer ticket.

Horace Moore, a Crips gang member, has been arrested eight times prior to the trial. The 22-year old could only offer a quiet apology after hearing the family of Edwin Thomas, a veteran New York bus driver, mourn their loss. "I didn't mean nothing to happen that day. If you could forgive me, please do," Moore said.

Eric Bellucci Charged with Murder for Parents' Death

In a case that would sadden even the most seasoned NY criminal defense attorney, a son has been charged with the murder of his own parents.

Staten Island resident Eric Bellucci escaped to Israel after being accused of killing his parents Arthur and Marian Bellucci. The New York Daily News reported Eric Bellucci, 30, was recently captured in Tel Aviv and extradited back to the U.S. after he was found trying to book a flight to China. He is currently being held at the Staten Island police station and faces prosecution for murder charges.

Eric Bellucci, who was once considered a brilliant man by his family and friends, was diagnosed with schizophrenia after college. He was hospitalized twice and became delusional and violent, frequently unleashing his rage at his family. According to his sister Vanessa Bellucci, her brother was livid when she and her parents attempted to get him some help.

How The Juvenile Justice System Works In NYC

According to FindLaw, delinquents in New York City who are under the age of 18 go through a different criminal justice system known as the "juvenile justice" system. Although minors under the age of 7 typically cannot be tried, their parents may be held responsible for the child's actions. Any young person between the ages of 7 and 15 can be sent to juvenile court, although there have been cases where children between the ages of 12 and 18 have been tried in criminal court for serious offenses.

A NY criminal defense attorney familiar with juvenile court cases can give an in depth explanation on how a minor gets to juvenile court. Once a case is referred to juvenile court, a probation officer decides on whether to dismiss the matter, handle the case "off the record," or file formal charges. If charges are filed, the underage defendant can expect an arraignment, hearing, entering a plea, trial, sentencing, and post-sentencing.

Man Attacked In The Bronx For Being Gay

A 30-year-old man was under the impression that a party was going on in the Bronx and brought plenty of liquor as instructed. Instead of a party, nine men between the ages of 16 to 23 awaited him. Police reported the attackers tortured, sodomized, and burned the victim as punishment for being gay. The New York Times reported the nine men had also captured and beat two teenage boys who admitted to having sex with the 30-year-old man.

The attackers, who dubbed themselves the Latin King Goonies, sodomized the 30-year-old victim with a small baseball bat and whipped him with a chain. They commanded one of the teen victims to burn the 30-year-old's nipple and penis with a cigarette as they barked gay slurs, according to the police. After forcing the 30-year-old to drink all the liquor he had brought, the "Goonies" seized the keys to his house and robbed his home.

Fox 5 News Reporter Charles Leaf Accused of Child Molestation

Charles Leaf, whom many recognize as one of the Fox 5 news reporters, was accused this week of molesting a four-year-old girl inside his New Jersey home.  The allegations have stunned many of Leaf's colleagues and friends. Judy Millane, one of Charles Leaf's neighbors, was surprised by the news and said she hopes "it's not true. He's a great family man. But predators, you never know who they are."

Having worked at Fox since 2006, Fox 5 management has suspended Charles Leaf while further investigation of the situation continues. According to the New York Daily News, the married man and father of two children is currently being held behind bars on $250,000 bail.

Faisal Shahzad Sentenced to Life for Bomb Scheme

After a failed attempt to detonate a car bomb in May at New York, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The New York Daily News reported Shahzad, a 31-year-old native Pakistani, pleaded guilty to ten federal crimes without any remorse or worry. After being convicted, the would-be mass murderer shared he was "happy with the deal that God has given me."

Faisal Shahzad had parked a Nissan Pathfinder SUV filled with home-made explosives in the Theatre District in W. 45th Street. Even before setting off this bomb, prosecutors said Shahzad was already plotting a second plan of attack. Police arrested him two days later while he was aboard a flight bound for Dubai, United Arab Emirates at Kennedy Airport.

Benjamin Carver Recovers From Gay Bash

Benjamin Carver returned to New York two days after a pair of gay bashers attacked him at a West Village gay bar. Even though this was his first encounter with violence, Carver recounted the incident on his blog and said he "never felt fear before, during, or after the experience." Police identified Staten Island locals Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 17, as the attackers, according to the New York Daily News.

Benjamin Carver, 34, and his boyfriend had gone to NYC for a weekend trip and met with some friends at The Stonewall Inn, which is recognized as the origin for the Gay Rights movement. Still "in full control of his faculties," Carver went to the restroom and ran into Matthew Francis and Christopher Orlando. "Don't pee next to me, f----t," said one of the men to Carver.

Ex-Con Daniel Pagan Charged With Murder

Ex-con Daniel Pagan allegedly stabbed Brooklyn bartender Chai Eun Hillman to death after a heated argument about their dogs outside a bar. According to the New York Daily News, Daniel Pagan, 36, wound up in handcuffs and was charged with murder, attempted murder, and criminal possession of a weapon.

What began as innocent bickering blew up into a verbal battle when both dog owners stepped outside the country-Western bar Branded Saloon to check on their pets. Chai Eun Hillman's miniature pinscher Rocco was tied to a fence right next to Daniel Pagan's poodle Bugsy when their dog leashes got tangled together. Both dogs panicked, leading the owners to argue about whose dog instigated the fight.