Thursday, May 10, 2007

Court Report:

Great Irony At Sentencing Of
Peekskill Murderer
Westchester County Court, White Plains
Judge Susan Cacace Presiding

There was great irony, Wednesday, May 2nd, attached to the sentencing
of Steven Cunningham, the finally confessed murderer of fifteen-year-old
Angela Correa, November 15, 1989, as he stood at the Defense Table with his
attorney Barry Warhit for the pronouncement of sentence by County Court
Judge Susan Cacace. Standing at the Prosecution Table, and handling the
case for the State, was Assistant District Attorney Patricia Murphy. Over the
years, Murphy had frequently been the “tag team partner” of ADA George
Bolen in any number of high profile prosecutions. Now she stood in Cacace’s
Court in the official effort to make right what can never be made right.

It was George Bolen, after all, the despicable, vile creature, knowing
perfectly well that 16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic was not the rapist nor the
killer of Angela Correa; neither his DNA, nor his hair follicles matched
those found in and on her body, who, nevertheless prosecuted the totally
innocent boy for sport, just because he had the financial and political resources
to do so. He had done similarly before, and would do so many
times again, before fleeing into retirement days before Jeffrey would finally
emerge from prison, sixteen years later.

It was George Bolen, unprincipled and insensitive as any prosecutor
could be, who told the jury that the reason defendant Deskovic’s DNA and
hair did not match wasn’t because he was not the perpetrator, but rather,
because fifteen-year-old Angela “had consensual sex with someone else.”

Of course, George made no effort to identify her earlier partner, because
he knew he was lying, and really didn’t give a damn how he had to destroy
the reputation of some dead Hispanic girl from Peekskill, if he could notch
another win in his record.

Patricia Murphy was clearly subdued, and, to her credit, handled, what, at
best, was an uncomfortable situation with dignity and professionalism, reading
the combined statements of Angela’s mother, and surviving sister. Her mother,
also named Angela, told the Court, “She was a kind, sweet kid, and had the
biggest heart you’ve ever seen.” She reflected, “On that day her illusions and
dreams died.” Speaking directly to Jeffrey Deskovic, Angela’s mother offered,
“For those who have condemned you, I invite them to bow their heads.” Unfortunately,
neither George Bolen, nor Peekskill Police Chief Eugene Tumolo,
were man enough to be present in court to hear those words.

The victim’s sister, speaking of Steven Cunningham, added, “He not only took
multiple lives, he took the hearts and souls of those still waiting for answers.”

At one point in her presentation ADA Murphy, making reference to the
wrongful conviction of Jeffrey Deskovic for the crime of Steven Cunningham,
said, “Fortunately, though very belatedly, science placed the blame
where it always belonged.” Those words had to be very tough for Deskovic
to listen to knowing that for more than ten years DA Jeanine Pirro, Murphy’s
boss for twelve years, did everything in her power to prevent him
from getting the DNA material found in young Angela’s body from being
compared with the State’s DNA Data Bank. Had Pirro not been so incredibly
cruel, Jeffrey would have been out of prison ten years earlier.

Judge Cacace, prior to pronouncing sentence, offered Cunningham the
opportunity to speak in his own behalf. He quickly said, “No.” The Judge
then proceeded to sentence him to Twenty-Years to Life, to run consecutively
with the term he is currently serving for the murder of his former
girlfriend’s sister, Pat Morrison, also of Peekskill.

Analysis

Had the Peekskill police, and specifically then-Lt. Detective Tumolo
not forced a false confession from Jeffrey Deskovic, in order to quickly arrest
and convict somebody, anybody; and had George Bolen not mindlessly
sent an innocent youngster to prison, Steven Cunningham might very
well have been apprehended and imprisoned, and Pat Morrison would
not have lost her life. No financial compensation can ever repay Mr. Deskovic
for the best years of his youth needlessly spent behind bars, and no
sum of money can ever bring back Pat Morrison.

Deskovic, a very strong and determined young man, emerged nearly
eight months ago, remarkably without anger or bitterness, and has been
working to achieve the college degree he nearly acquired while in prison,
before Pataki became governor and terminated that opportunity for inmates.
He plans to go on for a law degree, all the while advocating for
legislative changes needed to prevent self-serving prosecutors from maliciously,
and unlawfully, doing to other innocent defendants what was
done to him. Everywhere he has spoken before groups in several states,
and major cities, he has been warmly and enthusiastically received. He
has been actively lobbying the New York State Legislature, speaking out
against the Death Penalty, and seeking legislative action against prosecutorial
misconduct.

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