Jury’s Out in Maze Murder Trial
January 13-19, 1994
By Janet Tarpey
The fate of the Queens College student accused for stabbing 16-year-old [Deceased] to death in “the Maze,” now lies in the hands of six men and six women.
Jury deliberations began last Monday night, bringing the two-month long trial nearer to an end. At press time, the jury was still out.
In his closing arguments in a Jamaica courtroom, defense attorney Todd Greenberg told the jury that the lack of physical evidence presented by the prosecution warranted an acquittal for his client, [Defendant].
The state is trying him for intentional murder. However, Greenberg has repeatedly questioned the testimony of the medical examiner, suggesting that [Deceased] died from a kick to the head, not the 18 stab wounds inflicted on his body. If this is the case, the state’s charge of intentional murder would prove untenable.
Of the four teenagers who testified to being in the maze, a series of alleyways in Maspeth that have since been sealed, three said they saw [Defendant] repeatedly plunge a knife into [Deceased] body on Dec. 6, 1992.
While Assistant District Attorney Debra Lynn Pomodore’s case appears fairly convincing, Greenberg has challenged the credibility of her teen-age witnesses. He pointed out that they were all members of the same graffiti gang, a gang that [Defendant] did not belong to.
“Does that preclude them from being truthful witnesses?” Pomodore asked the jury, adding that the medical examiner found the testimony of those witnesses to be accurate.
[Defendant] did not testify in the case. Greenberg did not call any witnesses, claiming that the state’s case did not warrant a rebuttal.
[Defendant] should not be convicted of intentional murder according to Greenberg, because [Deceased] may already have been dead when he was stabbed. Witnesses’ accounts said that [Defendant] kicked [Deceased] in the face while he was kneeling down and bending over to ignite a pile of leaves. The kick allegedly caused [Deceased] to convulse on the ground before he stopped moving.
Blood found in the chest cavities and abdomen prove that theory false, argued Pomodore. “He was alive at the time of the stabbing,” she said. The medical examiner found no injury to the brain or the skull, Pomodore continued.
Greenberg suggested that because his client didn’t have a “tag” (a graffiti name) and wasn’t part of “the crew,” that he was singled out by gang members.
“Let’s give the defendant a tag,” Pomodore told the jury. “The only tag appropriate is murderer,” she said as she asked the jury to find [Defendant], 18, guilty of intentional murder.
If convicted, [Defendant] faces 25 years to life in prison.