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Teen Acquitted in Maze Slaying

New York Newsday
January 14, 1994
By Graham Rayman

A Queens jury has acquitted the Maspeth teenager accused of stabbing a 16-year-old boy to death in a graffiti-covered warren of alleys in Elmhurst called “the Maze.”

After a five-week trial, the jury Wednesday evening found [Defendant], 17, of Maspeth not guilty in the Dec. 6, 1992, slaying of [Deceased] in the Maze, which is near 52nd Court and 74th Street in Elmhurst.

The verdict surprised law enforcement officials and the victim’s family, who said prosecutors presented four witnesses.

“I don’t know how I’m going to move on after this,” said [Name Deleted], the victim’s mother.

“Everyone was very confident that the verdict would be guilty,” said [Name Deleted], the victim’s father. “All in all, eight children saw what happened. I just can’t understand. I don’t know what to say.”

“The jury has spoken and we abide by their decision,” said Richard Piperno, a spokesman for the Queens district attorney, echoing a statement made Wednesday by prosecutor Debra Lynn Pomodore, who declined to comment yesterday.

“I just feel that the people just did not surpass their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Todd Greenberg, [Defendant’s] attorney, adding that his client “cried and was happy” when the verdict came down.

During the trial, Greenberg presented no witnesses, focusing instead on attacking the prosecution’s case. In his summation, he challenged the credibility of prosecution witnesses, the physical evidence and the medical examiner’s ruling on the cause of death.

[Name Deleted], the mother of one witness, criticized State Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Braun as biased toward the defense and said her faith in the judicial system was shaken. “It will never be over because he walked,” she said.

“I’m not going to comment on the verdict, but if he didn’t do it then you have to wonder who did it,” said City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, one of several politicians who pressured the property owner to build a wall at the entrance to the Maze after [Deceased] death.

A security guard who works in the warehouses that make up the Maze said because of the cold weather, activity is down, but teenagers still sneak into the area.

Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said kids still sneak into the area through an entrance next to a set of railroad tracks and then scale another wall. There are as many as 12 ways to get into the Maze.