Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

No Rhetoric Of Counsel Can Alter The Ugly Facts

Let’s begin by saying that you, Mr. Castro, deserve a big thank you from your client, Chief of Police, City of Peekskill, Eugene Tumolo, firstly, for your willingness to take on such an unpopular defense and, secondly, for giving it “the old college try” even before going to trial. However, all of the effort to characterize former Detective
Lieutenant Tumolo’s conduct, with respect to Jeffrey Deskovic at any time over the past 18 years, as having been beneficially and conscientiously intentioned, is both misguided and very wide of the truth.

More to the point, your repeated assertions, with respect to the DNA retrieved from the rape-kit swabbings of victim Angela Correa’s vagina, in nearly every one of your 15 paragraphs in Chief Tumolo’s defense, plays a bit like “Johnny One-Note”.

In point of fact, then-Detective Tumolo urgently needed some material evidence, something tangible, connecting young 16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic to the heinous rape and murder of a 15-year-old schoolmate who he barely knew.

Truth be told, Detective Tumolo, who headed up the investigation, assisted by Detectives Levine and McIntyre, had absolutely nothing that even remotely resembled a connection between Mr. Deskovic and the scene of the crime, much less even a hint of a relationship, or a motive connecting him to poor Angela.

Perhaps, that was why, on January 25, 1990, knowing full well that Miranda Attorney Rights had already attached, Lieutenant Tumolo and his two henchmen, Levine and McIntyre, once again, without his mother’s knowledge, and clearly in violation of his Constitutional rights, literally abducted young Jeffrey. Keeping him
from school, they transported him to Brewster, New York, in Putnam County, many miles from Peekskill where, in conspiracy with Sheriff ’s Deputy Daniel Stephens, concealing the fact that he was a police officer, helped extract a false confession from a 16-year-old boy by wiring him to a polygraph machine for more than five hours,
repeatedly lying to him and intimidating and threatening him until he would say anything to stop the torture.

In fact, Jeffrey Deskovic, scared out of his mind, lay down on the floor in a fetal position, crying profusely and saying whatever his tormentors wanted to hear. As pertains specifically to your client, Mr. Castro, Eugene Tumolo, who had engineered the event, was in the next room in touch with and steering the whole operation as
Stephens and Detectives Levine and McIntyre, playing “bad cop/good cop” respectively, took turns lying to and tormenting Jeffrey until he “confessed”.

Mr. Castro, you need to know that once the youth was broken down, crying and saying whatever they wanted him to say, Eugene Tumolo burst into the room, demanding that he say it again for him, whereupon he was placed under arrest. Of course, once he realized that he had been lied to and that he wasn’t “going home”, Jeffrey
refused to write or sign any statement. Lacking any basis for an arrest, other than a false confession, tortured from a 16-year-old kid, Detective Lieutenant Tumolo had his own very selfish need to obtain a DNA confirmation. The diligence that you, Mr. Castro, speak of with regard to your client’s pursuit of DNA testing, had nothing whatsoever to do with good faith, or beneficial intentions. It was all about trying to confirm the legitimacy of an arrest that was based, to that point, solely on a torturously extracted false confession. It was not about any “desire to search for the truth” as you so wrongly state.

Motivated as he was to produce some material forensic link to the 16-yearold boy he had extracted a false confession from, in violation of his Constitutional Rights, naturally, Officer Tumolo did everything he could to obtain possible DNA support. However, once that DNA result established that the semen found in victim Angela Correa’s vagina conclusively excluded Jeffrey Deskovic, Eugene Tumolo, who had engineered that brutal false confession, had a moral, ethical, and professional obligation to derail the horrific chain of events he had selfishly and maliciously set in motion.

Your phrase, Mr. Castro, “Eugene Tumolo followed the proper protocol and immediately presented the DNA results to the Chief Law Enforcement Agency in the County, the District Attorney’s Office,” would almost be laughable had the consequences of his prior deliberate failure to “follow the proper protocol” in obtaining that false confession, not been so devastating to poor Jeffrey.

Your comment, with regard to disclosure of the DNA results to the media, was very misleading. In point of fact, The Guardian had recently observed that if Detective Tumolo actually went to Assistant District Attorney George Bolen to express his concern over the DNA mismatch, only to be rebuffed by the equally over-zealous prosecutor, and informed that the prosecution would go forward; Eugene Tumolo, if he was truly concerned for the fate of an innocent 16-year-old boy who he had placed in harm’s way, could have gone to Bolen’s boss, DA Carl Vergari. And, if that appeal, with compelling scientific evidence, failed, he could have gone to the State Attorney General. And, if that failed, he could’ve gone to the United States Attorney’s Office. And, in the unlikely event that all of them conspired to prosecute an obviously innocent boy, then he could have gone to the media. The truth is, your client, Officer Tumolo, made none of those appeals, armed as he was with “compelling scientific evidence”.

The fact is, Eugene Tumolo didn’t even need the DNA to realize that Jeffrey Deskovic was innocent. He knew that the hair follicles found on Angela Correa’s body didn’t match Jeffrey either; her killer was Steven Cunningham, a Black man. No, Eugene Tumolo was content to be rebuffed by George Bolen, an equally evil, self-servant; content to watch Jeffrey get convicted, and content to let him rot in prison for 16 years, knowing full well the kid was innocent and he, Tumolo, had set in motion, and left in motion, the cruel process that robbed the best years of Jeffrey’s life.

Worse yet, Officer Tumolo was never coaxed by conscience from his silence, not even when Angela’s killer, Steven Cunningham, struck again in his city, in a similar fashion, just three and a half years later, killing Pat Morrison. After all, it wouldn’t be in Officer Tumolo’s self-interest if it was discovered he had arrested an innocent boy for rape and murder with nothing but a false confession, and then watched that boy go to prison for Life knowing full well he was innocent, and that the real murderer was free to kill again.

Incidentally, a newspaper is not “persecuting” a public official, as you repeatedly suggest, by disclosing information from appellate documents that were sworn to, and that are part of the public record. Chief Tumolo knows very well what cruel and unlawful conduct he manifested towards Jeffrey Deskovic in concert with other selfserving individuals. And, as you say, Mr. Castro, “facts will triumph.”

In the final analysis, yes, Assistant District Attorney George Bolen was a cruel self-serving imposter for proceeding with the prosecution of Jeffrey Deskovic despite the compelling scientific evidence of his innocence, as was former District Attorney Jeanine Pirro for, no fewer than six times, fighting Jeffrey’s appeals for DNA comparison with the data bank. But, so, too, is your client, Eugene Tumolo, for having put him in their harm’s way. And, of course, all three of them, and others, have the blood of Pat Morrison on their hands.

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