Man facing retrial in ‘Grid Kid’ killing argues lawyers purposely suppressed evidence

June 13, 2018 : New York Post

The man facing retrial ​for the 15-year-old murder of a college football player at a Brooklyn house party is trying to get the case tossed — arguing the ​​prosecutor deliberately suppressed evidence ​that could have cleared him.

John Giuca says former Brooklyn prosecutor Anna Nicolazzi purposely buried an interview that exonerated him of the 2003 murder of New Jersey teen Mark Fisher.

Guica’s defense lawyer, Mark Bederow, argues in court papers that jailhouse snitch Joseph Ingram told Nicolazzi in a taped 2005 conversation that Giuca was innocent.

“[Russo] told me he left the party with [Fisher],” the documents quote Ingram as saying, referring to Guica’s convicted co-defendant, Antonio Russo.

“He said he had the intention of robbing him. And [Fisher] didn’t have enough money on him and he was going to take him to the ATM machine. And they ended up getting into some kind of fight and he ended up shooting him,” Ingram says.

“[Russo] called John’s house and asked John if he could come over, and that he had just shot the kid in the leg,” Ingram allegedly said. “John answered the door. The kid asked him to get rid of the weapon. And John refused.”

Ingram died in 2006; Russo recently confessed to the fatal shooting.

Giuca served more than 10 years for the slaying before an appeals court overturned his 2005 conviction in February. He remains jailed, pending retrial.

“There is no excuse for the prosecution’s 13-year-failure to disclose what Nicolazzi clearly knew was exculpatory evidence,” the motion reads. “The critical witness, now dead, could have testified for Giuca at the first trial. Now that is impossible.”

“We will review the motion, and are investigating to determine whether that evidence had been turned over,” said a spokesman with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

Nicolazzi, who now stars on the television show “True Conviction,” did not return a message.

‘Grid Kid’ murder suspect’s lawyers claim prosecutors framed him

June 18, 2018 : New York Post

Attorneys for a Brooklyn man facing retrial for the 15-year-old murder of a college football player say they’ve unearthed more evidence that a former prosecutor framed their client.

Ex-prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi wrote a letter of recommendation for a witness after he took the stand to finger John Giuca for the 2003 murder of 19-year-old Mark Fisher, according to newly filed court papers.

Giuca’s defense team now wants all documents related to Nicolazzi’s interactions with Albert Cleary, who testified during Giuca’s 2005 trial that Giuca himself ordered the hit.

Cleary told jurors Giuca handed a gun to Antonio Russo — who recently confessed to the slaying — and told him to show Fisher “what’s up” after the New Jersey teen sat on a table during a house party.

Giuca and Russo were convicted of second-degree murder, and the following February, Nicolazzi wrote a boilerplate letter of recommendation for Cleary.

“Mr. Cleary was a valuable prosecution witness and his testimony was crucial,” reads the Feb. 14, 2006, letter. “Although he originally struggled with the decision to cooperate, he realized he needed to start making decisions that were not only right, but best for his well-being.”

Giuca served more than 10 years for the murder before an appeals court overturned his conviction in February. He remains behind bars pending retrial.

“Cleary’s bizarre path to cooperate against Giuca finally makes sense now that we know Nicolazzi gave Cleary a benefit for his testimony,” defense attorney Mark Bederow told The Post. “There is strong reason to believe there was a wink and a nod between the DA and Cleary which was hidden from Giuca. We intend to find out.”

Bederow also blasted the DA’s office for only now turning over the letter, saying it was “outrageous” he wasn’t able to ask Nicolazzi about it when she took the stand in 2015 while a judge was reviewing Giuca’s conviction.

Cleary remains the only original trial witness to not recant under oath.

The court papers come less than a week after Bederow accused Nicolazzi of suppressing an audio recording with another witness, now dead, that exonerated his client.

Nicolazzi did not return a message, and the Brooklyn DA’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Retired detective lied to keep ‘Grid Kid killer’ locked up: lawyers

June 27, 2018 : New York Post

A retired NYPD detective lied to keep accused “Grid Kid Killer” John Giuca behind bars, defense attorneys claim in a new letter.

Retired Detective Thomas Byrnes testified in a 2015 hearing that he’d first met jailhouse snitch John Avitto — whose testimony helped put Giuca away for the 2003 murder of college football star Mark Fisher– while Avitto was living at a drug rehab program.

But a year earlier, Byrnes told prosecutors with Brooklyn’s Conviction Review Unit that he’d only ever met Avitto at the DA’s office, lawyer Mark Bederow writes.

Bederow claims the DA’s office was wholly aware of the contradictory statements but kept them from his client — and had Byrnes trot out the story most convenient for prosecutors during hearings into whether Giuca should get a new trial.

Giuca’s conviction was overturned earlier this year by an appellate court, and he’s due back in court Thursday as he awaits retrial in Fisher’s murder.

Byrnes perjured himself “with the blessing or acquiescence” of top prosecutor Ken Taub — meeting with Taub only a week before he took the stand in Giuca’s 2015 hearings, claims Bederow.

“Taub was an experienced prosecutor and Chief of the homicide bureau,” the letter reads. “At the very least, he was obligated to disclose to the court and Giuca the material contradictions between Byrnes’ testimony and his prior statement to the CRU. Instead, Taub sat silently, misled the Court and unfairly deprived Giuca of the opportunity to expose Byrnes’ obvious credibility problem.”

Avitto also took the stand during Giuca’s wrongful conviction hearings, recanting testimony he’d given in 2005 that he heard Giuca implicate himself in Fisher’s murder.

At trial, Avitto testified he heard an older man during a Rikers Island visit ask Giuca, “Why’d you have the gun?” and Giuca said, “I just had it.”

The testimony played a central role in trial prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi’s case — but in November 2015 Avitto proclaimed he “made it up.”

“We will review the letter,” a spokesman with the Brooklyn DA’s office said.

‘Grid Kid’ murder suspect’s lawyer requests DA launch probe into his office

June 22, 2018 : New York Post

A lawyer for the man awaiting retrial for a 2003 murder is personally​​ petitioning the Brooklyn ​district ​a​​​ttorney to launch a probe​ –​ into his own office​.​

In a letter to DA Eric Gonzalez, defense attorney Mark Bederow requests an investigation into why Brooklyn’s lauded Conviction Review Unit missed evidence ​that ​Bederow claims supports his longstanding accusations of prosecutorial misconduct​ in the case against John Giuca​.

Giuca​ ​was convicted ​ ​in 2005 in the murder of college football ​player Mark Fisher​ after a house party in Brooklyn​. ​The conviction was overturned by an appeals panel in February​ and Giuca now faces retrial​

Bederow has long maintained that trial prosecutor Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi suppressed evidence in order to frame Giuca and maintain her perfect record.

The letter comes after Bederow filed motions earlier this month detailing the sudden emergence of new materials​ ​–​ ​including an audio recording of jailhouse snitch Joseph Ingram clearing Giuca, and a letter of recommendation penned by Nicolazzi for a key witness.

“The CRU apparently failed to discover that Nicolazzi suppressed the Ingram recording” ahead of Giuca’s 2015 wrongful conviction hearings, the note says. “I further request that you immediately commence an investigation into why the Ingram recording was suppressed from Giuca for 13 years.”

Bederow also asks Gonzalez to drop all charges against his client.

“As a result of this latest and egregious violation of Giuca’s right to due process, I urge you to withdraw your office’s effort to appeal the reversal of Giuca’s murder conviction to the Court of Appeals and to move to vacate Giuca’s conviction in the interest of justice,” the papers read.

Nicolazzi did not return a message.

“We will review the letter,” a spokesman with the Brooklyn DA’s office said.

Judge denies bail for John Giuca despite overturned murder conviction

May 1, 2018 ; News 12 Brooklyn

BROOKLYN – A judge denied bail Tuesday for a Brooklyn man whose 2003 murder conviction was overturned on appeal.

John Giuca’s relatives and lawyer are continuing to fight for his release.

“The case has crumbled,” says his mother, Doreen Giuliano. “He’s an innocent man, and he needs to be free.”

He was originally convicted in the 2003 shooting death of New Jersey college student Mark Fisher after a night of drinking in Prospect Park South.

A few months ago, an appeals court ruled he did not receive a fair trial.

The judge’s decision to deny bail means he will remain incarcerated at Rikers Island as he awaits a possible retrial.

“It’s a violent place,” Giuliano says. “John’s safety is a concern.”

Drama and intrigue have long been a part of the case.

After her son’s conviction, Giuliano went undercover and befriended a juror, recording evidence that he had known some of the witnesses in the trial. Her actions prompted allegations of juror misconduct.

And Giuca’s friend, Antonio Russo, is also serving a life sentence for the crime. Giuca’s lawyer says that a few months ago, Russo confessed to committing the crime himself, with his own gun.

Prosecutors are trying to reverse the overturned conviction. Giuca’s next court date is June 28.

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