Brooklyn DA Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction In Connection With 2001 Killing Outside Sunset Park Strip Club

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 22, 2019

 

Brooklyn DA Moves to Vacate Murder Conviction
In Connection With 2001 Killing Outside Sunset Park Strip Club

Defendant’s Confession Was Used at Trial Even Though It Contained a False Fact – That Victim Was Stabbed, not Shot; Detective Notes That Could Have Helped Defense Were Not Disclosed

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that following a thorough investigation by his Conviction Review Unit (CRU), he will move to vacate the murder conviction against Bladimil Arroyo, 39, who has been incarcerated since 2001. The investigation found that the defendant was deprived of a fair trial because the only direct evidence against him consisted of a confession that included a false fact likely transmitted to him by police – that the victim was stabbed rather than shot – and certain detective notes were not disclosed to the defense. Arroyo is the 25th individual whose conviction has been vacated by Brooklyn’s CRU since it was established in 2014. The full report of the CRU’s investigation and its recommendations on lessons learned is available here.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “While we cannot say that Mr. Arroyo was not involved in this crime, a thorough investigation by my Conviction Review Unit has concluded that he was deprived of a fair trial, and this undermines our confidence in his conviction. Confirmation bias and nondisclosure of certain police documents led to this outcome and I am confident that policy changes that have been made over the ensuing years and additional recommendations by the CRU will ensure that these mistakes are not repeated. I remain fully committed to correcting every past injustice that took place in Brooklyn.”

Arroyo will appear in court today at 2:15 p.m. before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew D’Emic at 320 Jay Street, 15th floor.

The District Attorney said that in the early morning hours of September 16, 2001, Gabor Muronvi, who was walking with a friend, was killed near the Sweet Cherry strip club in Sunset Park, Brooklyn during a botched robbery. Arroyo was apprehended a short time later after police followed a car that left the crime scene, leading to him and to a co-defendant, who was injured during the confrontation with the victim and his friend. A doctor informed police that the victim died from a stab wound to the heart.

Later that day, Arroyo confessed to trying to rob the two men and to stabbing the victim “in the upper chest” during a struggle. He was charged that afternoon with murder and related counts. The next day, the Medical Examiner reported that the autopsy showed the cause of death to be a single gunshot to the chest and that the victim was not stabbed.

The case proceeded and Arroyo’s confession was used at trial, with the prosecutor suggesting to the jury that the defendant confessed to using a knife in an attempt to minimize his culpability in the fatal shooting. The victim’s friend, who survived the attack and initially told police there were three assailants, testified that there were only two. He did not identify Arroyo at trial.

Arroyo was convicted in November 2002 of second-degree murder, attempted robbery and assault. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. (His co-defendant pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to nine years in prison.)

The investigation by the CRU revealed that police accounts concerning Arroyo’s confession – which was false in regard to the murder weapon – were incomplete at best and misleading at worst because they did not explain how Arroyo came to describe erroneous facts that police believed to be true at the time. The CRU also discovered that several documents were not turned over to defense and should have been: detective notes about the surviving victim’s identification of another individual as a possible attacker; notes containing a detective’s initial statement that there were three people in the car that left the scene; notes containing the same detective’s description of the car’s passenger, which didn’t match the defendant; and untimely disclosure of the surviving victim’s past conviction, which allowed him to testify falsely about the circumstances of that conviction. These documents would have helped the defense argue against the prosecution’s theory that only two attackers were involved in the crime, a theory that validated the defendant’s confession. The CRU therefore recommended vacating Arroyo’s conviction.

The CRU also found that because the crime happened a few days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, usual processes of obtaining police reports were disrupted and documents were received late and piecemeal. The investigation could not ascertain when, if at all, the non-disclosed items were received.

The CRU issued the following recommendations to ensure that the circumstances leading to this wrongful conviction are not repeated: 1. Video recording of interrogations and statements, which is largely mooted by recent legislation requiring video interrogations of persons accused of serious crimes. 2. Training all prosecutors on confirmation bias, which likely led the prosecution in this case to move forward even after new evidence had emerged that conflicted with the defendant’s confession. Prosecutors believed the defendant was trying to minimize his conduct and did not pause to explore the possibility that he was fed facts and provided a false account. The tendency of people to embrace information that supports their existing beliefs and reject information that contradicts those beliefs is pervasive and comes up repeatedly in the practice of criminal law. 3. Improved discovery practices, which were not subject to a uniform protocol when this case was tried. An open file discovery policy has since been instituted in Brooklyn, which includes disclosures at a much earlier stage than the statutory requirements and creates a clear record of what was turned over. That policy will soon improve further with a transition to electronic discovery, which is part of DA Gonzalez’s Justice 2020 action plan. Together, these changes reduce the chances of documents being mismanaged.

To date, the work of the Conviction Review Unit has resulted in 25 convictions being vacated, including Arroyo’s. In addition, the CRU has found that of the cases reviewed thus far, 60 convictions are just and not recommended for vacatur. Approximately 100 cases are pending review.

This case was investigated by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Tamara Edelstein and Lori Glachman, of the District Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Eric Sonnenschein, Deputy Unit Chief, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale, Unit Chief, and the overall supervision of Tali Farhadian Weinstein, General Counsel.

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Chef Turned Restaurant Consultant Indicted for Allegedly Stealing More Than $14,000 From Owners of Bay Ridge Eatery

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 22, 2019

 

Chef Turned Restaurant Consultant Indicted for Allegedly Stealing
More Than $14,000 From Owners of Bay Ridge Eatery

Defendant Allegedly Faked Violations and Documentation to Steal Money

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett today announced that a 36-year-old man has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument and falsifying business records for stealing more than $14,000 from a Bay Ridge restaurant after falsely claiming it had numerous violations.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The victims in this case worked hard to make their restaurant a success and this defendant, claiming he could help them, allegedly lied and stole their hard-earned money instead. I am committed to protecting small businesses, which are an important part of our communities, from fraudsters such as this defendant.”

Commissioner Garnett said, “This defendant falsified City documents to continually shake down a local small business for thousands of dollars in cash, according to the charges. Forging official City documents is a crime and DOI will continue to pursue individuals who attempt to use fake records to take advantage of unwitting New Yorkers. DOI thanks OATH for referring the original complaint that led to today’s arrest and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office for its prosecution of this alleged conduct.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Vincent Tropepe, 36, of Bay Ridge. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Guy Mangano on a 41-count indictment in which he is charged with 19 counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, 20 counts of first-degree falsifying business records, one count of third-degree grand larceny, and one count of third-degree attempted grand larceny. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 17, 2019. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant, who holds himself out to be a restaurant consultant, was employed as a registered representative by the Yemen Café, located at 7130 Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to appear at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) to advocate on its behalf. The defendant also consulted and trained kitchen staff in proper food handling practices.

Between July 13, 2018 and August 18, 2018, according to the investigation, the defendant claimed he had discovered delinquent violations at OATH, appeared before a judge and negotiated lower fines, paid the fines from his business account and saved the Café from closure. He gave the owners of the Café fraudulent paperwork, including notices of appearance, that he claimed to have received from OATH, claiming that the restaurant owed thousands of dollars in fines for delinquent violations.

On July 13, 2018, he demanded to be reimbursed and he was given $2,570 by the owners. On August 13, 2018, the defendant demanded an additional $11,650, claiming he laid out that amount to pay fines on the Café’s behalf, and presented the owners with additional paperwork stating higher fines were owed. The owners gave the defendant that money as well.

The owners became suspicious of the validity of the violations and went to OATH to determine if the fines were legitimate. OATH determined that the documents presented by the defendant were fraudulent and the alleged fines and violations were fabricated. OATH reported the incident to DOI for investigation. Finally, the defendant allegedly sought additional payment from the Café in December 2018, presenting them with more fraudulent documents and fabricated violations. However, the owners did not give him any money.

The case was investigated by DOI’s Office of the Inspector General for OATH, specifically Assistant Inspector General Trenton Sweeney, under the supervision of Inspector General Eleonora Rivkin, Associate Commissioner Andrew Brunsden, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Investigations Dominick Zarrella, and First Deputy Commissioner Daniel Cort.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Adam Libove, of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him With Attempted Rape of Homeless Shelter Security Guard

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 22, 2019

 

Man Arraigned on Indictment Charging Him With
Attempted Rape of Homeless Shelter Security Guard

Defendant Escaped Custody Following His Arrest, Found in Hiding Two Days Later

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 31-year-old resident of an East New York homeless shelter has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with attempted rape, sexual abuse, escape and other charges for allegedly attacking a shelter security guard while she was on-duty, and then escaping custody following his arrest.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant is alleged to have cruelly attacked a woman whose job was to keep him and other residents of the shelter safe. Thankfully other residents and DHS police bravely thwarted this violent attack. We will now seek to hold him accountable and secure justice for the victim.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jose Bisono-Torres, 31, formerly of 1000 Blake Avenue, a homeless shelter run by the Community Healthcare Network. He was arraigned yesterday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram on an indictment in which he is charged with first-degree attempted rape, attempted sexual misconduct, first- and third-degree sexual abuse, and second- and third-degree escape. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 19, 2019. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on January 19, 2019, at approximately 7:45 a.m., the victim was finishing an overnight tour as a security guard at the shelter. She was standing next to a garbage can when the defendant allegedly approached her from behind and grabbed her aggressively while shouting that he was going to rape her. The defendant allegedly groped the victim.

Furthermore, the defendant allegedly refused to let go of the victim even after several people came out of their rooms and attempted to pull him off her. He was apprehended at the scene by Department of Homeless Services police officers stationed at the site.

At approximately 5:20 p.m., as the defendant was being escorted to the Central Booking entrance on State Street by the DHS officers, he allegedly shoved one officer and managed to escape. The defendant was apprehended hiding in the basement of a bodega in Cypress Hills on January 21, 2019 by New York City Police Officers assigned to the Fugitive Task Force.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Daniel Newcombe, of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not a proof of a defendant’s guilt.

 

Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Sentenced to 21 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Man at Crown Heights Gas Station in Broad Daylight

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 21, 2019

 

Bedford-Stuyvesant Man Sentenced to 21 Years to Life in Prison for Fatally Shooting Man at Crown Heights Gas Station in Broad Daylight

Defendant Was Recorded on Surveillance Video Firing Weapon;
DNA Recovered from Cellphone Found at Scene

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 31-year-old Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 21 years to life in prison for fatally shooting to death a 46-year-old man who he followed into a busy Crown Heights gas station in the middle of the day.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Such brazen shootings will not be tolerated in Brooklyn. We are committed to ending gun violence in our communities and will continue to hold accountable those who put others in harm’s way. This murder left the victim’s son and many family members devastated. I hope they find some solace in today’s sentence.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Andre Rodriguez, 31, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The defendant was sentenced to 21 years to life in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram. He was convicted of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon on January 28, 2019, following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on June 17, 2017, at approximately 12 noon, the defendant and another man followed the victim, Keith Vereen, 46, to a BP gas station at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The defendant and an alleged accomplice approached the victim while he was at a gas pump filling up his truck. The defendant walked up to the victim, immediately pressed a gun to the victim’s chest and shot him.

Surveillance video shows the defendant approach the victim with a handgun and point the weapon at him. The video also shows the defendant drop a cell phone during the altercation. DNA analysis revealed that the cell phone recovered at the crime scene contained the defendant’s DNA.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Leila Rosini, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.

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Brooklyn Man Indicted for Sexual Assaults on Two Women Over Two Days in Crown Heights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted for Sexual Assaults on Two Women
Over Two Days in Crown Heights

Allegedly Attacked First Victim on Subway, Ambushed Second Victim the Following Day

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced today that a Brooklyn man has been arraigned on a 15-count indictment in which he is charged with robbery, sexual abuse and assault for attacks on two women in Crown Heights less than 36 hours apart. The defendant allegedly attacked and robbed the first victim on a subway train, then assaulted the second victim in an alley the following day.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly prowled our subways and streets for two days preying upon women and spreading fear throughout our community. We will seek to hold him fully accountable and remain committed to seeking justice for sexual assault victims.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Daniel Jean Pierre, 37, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice John Ingram on a 15-count indictment in which he is charged with second- and third-degree robbery, second- and third-degree robbery as a sexually motivated felony, first- and third-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching, second- and third-degree assault and other related charges. He was ordered held on $100,000 bail and to return to court on April 10, 2019.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, at approximately 1:15 a.m. on January 17, 2019, the defendant boarded a north-bound 4 train at Franklin Avenue where he allegedly approached a woman who was sitting down, attempted to kiss her and as she tried to push him away he pushed her to the floor. The defendant then allegedly molested the woman as she continued to try to fight him off. During the alleged struggle, the victim’s wallet and headphones fell out of her bag onto a subway seat. The defendant allegedly removed $47 from the victim’s wallet and stole her headphones before exiting the train at Atlantic Terminal.

The following day, at approximately 11:10 a.m., the defendant allegedly ambushed a second victim as she walked on Eastern Parkway near Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights. It is alleged that the defendant forced the woman into an alley where he molested her.

The defendant fled the location when a passerby allegedly saw the defendant attacking the victim and intervened. Another passerby called police who conducted a canvas of the area. Officers found the defendant walking three blocks from the incident location and placed him under arrest.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Deborah Cohen of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications For High School Summer Interns

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications For High School Summer Interns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 11, 2019

 

Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office Accepting Applications
For High School Summer Interns

Internship Will Give Students an Opportunity to Learn About the Criminal Justice System

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the launch of the application process for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors interested in participating in the summer internship program.  The five-week paid internship is open to students who live and/or attend high school in Brooklyn, and are interested in learning about the different careers and responsibilities within the criminal justice system. The internship runs from July 8 to August 9, 2019.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We are delighted to welcome the next class of high school interns interested in learning about the criminal justice system. Our goal every year is to provide the students with an understanding of how the system operates and how my office works to keep Brooklyn safe and strengthen community trust. This competitive internship is a great opportunity for students to get hands-on experience in a busy prosecutor’s office, where they will learn how a commitment to fairness and equal justice is integrated into our practice.”

Selected students will be assigned to one of the many specialized units within the DA’s Office, while also getting an overview of the criminal justice system. They can expect to assist with legal research and analysis; help prosecutors to prepare for trial; work on discovery; carry out file maintenance and organization of court documents; participate in Trial Zone workshops; participate in judicial, legal and law enforcement-related field trips; and observe criminal proceedings, including trials, guilty pleas and sentencings.

During the five-week internship, participants will receive a $150 stipend per week, and a weekly MetroCard. Internship hours will be: Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Friday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Applicants are required to provide their most recent school transcript, a one-page resume, one letter of recommendation, and submit a 300-word typed essay (12 pt. font and double-spaced) on why they are interested in interning with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and what impact they think it will have on their future career goals.

To apply, please visit: http://apply.brooklynda.org  beginning February 11, 2019, to upload transcript, essay and resume. Only the recommendation letter should be emailed as an attachment to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office at hsinternships@brooklynda.org, with the subject line: Recommendation Letter (Applicant’s First and Last Name). All application materials must be received no later than March 25, 2019. For questions or assistance, please contact the High School Internship and Youth Initiatives Program Coordinator at (718) 250-4873.

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Former NYPD Officer Who Killed Pedestrian and Injured Three Others While Driving Drunk Sentenced to up to 15 Years in Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 4, 2019

 

Former NYPD Officer Who Killed Pedestrian and Injured Three Others While Driving Drunk Sentenced to up to 15 Years in Prison

Defendant’s Blood-Alcohol Level was Nearly Three Times the Legal Limit; Will Also Perform 350 Hours of Community Service by Educating Students About the Dangers of Drunk Driving

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former New York City Police Department officer has been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for driving drunk in Williamsburg, jumping a curb and striking pedestrians on a sidewalk, killing one and injuring three others.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This tragic case is another reminder of how dangerous drunk driving is and the terrible toll it can exact. This defendant accepted responsibility for his reckless and criminal actions that early morning, which took a promising young man’s life and irreparably harmed three additional victims. I hope this sentence will bring a small measure of solace to the victims and their families.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Nicholas Batka, 30, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser to an indeterminate sentence of five to 15 years in prison following his guilty plea in November 2018 to the top count of aggravated vehicular manslaughter and three counts of aggravated vehicular assault. After completing his sentence, the defendant will serve 350 hours of community service with the “Choices and Consequences” program, which educates high school students on the risks and consequences of driving while intoxicated.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, in the early morning hours of July 16, 2016, the defendant was drinking with friends at The Whiskey, a bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At about 3 a.m., while driving his Dodge Durango, the defendant jumped the curb in the vicinity of Bedford Avenue and North 8th Street in Williamsburg. The vehicle struck four pedestrians on the sidewalk and crashed through a wrought iron fence into the front of a building at 161 Bedford Avenue.

Andrew Esquivel, 21, suffered blunt force trauma and died hours after the crash. Sophia Tabchhouri, 20-year-old at the time, suffered injuries to her legs and arms, including multiple fractures. Divya Menezes, 20-year-old at the time, suffered trauma to both legs and to the right arm plus pelvic fractures. James Balchunas, 24-year-old at the time, suffered serious leg injuries.

Blood taken from the defendant about two hours after the crash showed that his blood-alcohol level at that time was measured at .23, according to the evidence. The legal limit is a blood-alcohol level of .08.

The defendant, who was a probationary officer assigned to the Manhattan Transit Task Force, was fired by the Police Department a few days after the incident.

The case was investigated by Detective Kenneth Long, Detective Michael Sharpe and Detective Edward Behringer of the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, and by Sergeant Terrence Smithson and Captain Louis Vierling of the NYPD’s Internal Affair Bureau.

The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Krystyn Tendy, of the District Attorney’s Grey Zone Trial Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief and formerly Bureau Chief of the Grey Zone, with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Nocella, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Unit.

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Man Indicted for 2009 Murder and Robbery of Brooklyn Shopkeeper

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 4, 2019

 

Man Indicted for 2009 Murder and Robbery of Brooklyn Shopkeeper

Fled to Australia Following the Attack;
Allegedly Connected to Crime Via DNA Evidence

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 37-year-old citizen of Turkmenistan has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and related charges for allegedly beating a Brighton Beach shopkeeper to death during a 2009 robbery. After the attack, the defendant fled to Australia where he was detained before his extradition to the United States, after DNA evidence allegedly linked him to the crime.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “For nearly 10 years, the family and friends of Vladislav Tolstykh have waited for this defendant to be prosecuted for a truly ruthless attack. I commend the New York City Police Department and Australian law enforcement for working together to bring this defendant back to Brooklyn to face justice.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Abakar Gadiyev, 37, a citizen of Turkmenistan who was living in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn at the time of the incident. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree murder, first-, second- and third-degree robbery and third-degree grand larceny. He was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 29, 2019. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on March 14, 2009 at approximately 2:26 p.m. the defendant and indicted co-conspirator Arsen Bashirov, 37, allegedly ambushed the victim, Vladislav Tolstykh, inside a parking garage on Brighton 11th Street near the Brighton Beach Bazaar, a grocery store that the victim co-owned and managed. The defendants allegedly beat the 34-year-old victim to death and ran off with a pouch containing $32,000 in cash, paychecks and luxury watches.

Investigators recovered ski masks and sweatshirts the perpetrators allegedly used to conceal themselves and discarded as they fled. Forensic analysis of those items of clothing found they contained the DNA of the victim and two males. Additionally, investigators reviewed surveillance video that showed the suspects enter the parking garage wearing sweatshirts and ski masks prior to the victim’s arrival. Surveillance video also captured the perpetrators running from the garage carrying the victim’s property.

It is alleged that the suspects fled the country to their native Turkmenistan a few days after the homicide. Gadiyev allegedly then traveled to Australia where he sought asylum without disclosing his alleged involvement in the homicide to Australian authorities.

NYPD Detectives coordinated with Australian police to obtain a DNA sample from the defendant on April 11, 2013. Local authorities in Sydney, Australia collected an abandoned can of Red Bull Gadiyev left behind that contained a DNA sample which positively matched the DNA police allegedly recovered from the defendant’s clothing.

The defendant was indicted by a grand jury in October 2013. Australian authorities detained the defendant in 2014 while he awaited extradition to the United States. In December of 2018, the Australian Attorney General determined that Gadiyev could be surrendered to the United States. He was returned to New York on February 1, 2019.

The District Attorney thanked Detective Peter McMahon of the Brooklyn South Homicide Squad; Inspector David El-Badawi of the New South Wales Police Department in Sydney; members of the Australian Federal Police; members of the NYPD Intelligence Division; and members of the United States Marshal Service for their assistance in this investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Andy Palacio, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt

 

Defendant Who Attacked Three Men Near Gay Nightclub Sentenced to 21 Years in State Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 1, 2019

 

Defendant Who Attacked Three Men Near Gay Nightclub
Sentenced to 21 Years in State Prison

Slashed One Victim Inside Restaurant and Attacked Two Others Outside a Gay Club

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 34-year-old Brooklyn man has been sentenced to 21 years in prison following his conviction last month on first-degree assault and other charges for slashing one man, menacing another with a weapon and stabbing a third near a gay nightclub in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This was a terrifying attack carried out for no reason that left three innocent men traumatized. I am committed to protecting all of the people of Brooklyn from such brutal violence. Today’s sentence holds the defendant accountable.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as James Thomas, a.k.a., Mousey Baby, 34, of Prospect Heights. He was sentenced today to 21 years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Donald Leo. The defendant was convicted of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree menacing and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon last month following a jury trial.

The District Attorney said that, according to the evidence, on March 5, 2017, at approximately 4:30 a.m., inside a Crown Fried Chicken restaurant located at 1147 Fulton Street, the defendant, who is a local rapper, shouted at various patrons inside of the restaurant, many of whom had just exited the nearby Langston Club, which is a predominantly gay night club. The defendant slashed the first victim in the face with a knife and left the restaurant.

The defendant then confronted two other men who had also left Langston Club and were attempting to walk into the same restaurant. He pushed the second victim up against a wall, menaced him with a knife and stabbed the third victim twice in the torso and once in the shoulder when he tried to come to his friend’s aid. Police responded to the scene, but the defendant had already fled the area.

The first stabbing victim was taken to the hospital and received 18 stitches on the left side of his face. The second stabbing victim received three stitches to the torso and was hospitalized overnight.

The defendant turned himself into police at the 79th precinct stationhouse on March 9, 2017, after video surveillance footage from the scene was released to the media.

The case was investigated by New York City Police Department Detective Andrew Smart of the Hate Crimes Task Force.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney T. Peter Choi, of the District Attorney’s Hate Crimes Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Kelli M. Muse, Chief of the Hate Crimes Bureau, under the overall supervision of Executive District Attorney Joseph P. Alexis, Chief of the Trial Division.

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Brooklyn Man Indicted on Multiple Counts of Murder, including as a Hate Crime, For Allegedly Killing Three Asian Men in Hammer Attack

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 1, 2019

 

Brooklyn Man Indicted on Multiple Counts of Murder, including as a Hate Crime, For Allegedly Killing Three Asian Men in Hammer Attack

Allegedly Targeted Sheepshead Bay Restaurant Workers Based on their Race;
Defendant Faces Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 34-year-old Brooklyn man has been arraigned on a 21-count indictment in which he is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder as a hate crime and related charges for allegedly bludgeoning three Asian men on January 15, 2019, causing their death.

District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This was a violent, horrific and harrowing attack on three completely innocent, hardworking men who were targeted simply because they were Asian. Sheepshead Bay, like all of Brooklyn, celebrates its diversity and will not tolerate vicious, hate-filled attacks in its community. I am committed to seeking justice for these three victims and their heartbroken families, friends and neighbors.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant Arthur Martunovich, 34, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on a 21-count indictment in which he is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, six counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, six counts of second-degree murder, second-degree attempted murder, fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, two counts of second-degree assault and two counts of third-degree assault. The defendant was ordered held without bail and to return to court on March 4, 2019. He faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the top count.

The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on January 15, 2019, at approximately 5:11 p.m., the defendant allegedly entered the Seaport Buffet Chinese restaurant on Emmons Avenue in Brooklyn armed with a hammer. He allegedly told a Latino employee that he was not going to be harmed, then struck the Asian victims repeatedly about the head with a hammer. He allegedly told the police he targeted the victims because of their race.

All three men were taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where one of the victims, a chef, Fufai Pun, 34, was pronounced dead. Pun was the nephew of Tsz Mat Pun, 50, who was part owner of the restaurant, who was also attacked. He died on January 24, 2019. The restaurant manager, Thang Ng, 60, died on January 18, 2019. All of the men died of blunt force injuries to the head.

The defendant was also indicted on assault charges for allegedly attacking two police officers while inside the 61st Precinct Stationhouse following his arrest.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Yi Liu, of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Homicide Bureau Chief.

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An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt