Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Court Report
By Richard Blassberg
Carmela Magnetti Abetting
Trial Goes Forward
Westchester County Court, White Plains
Judge Barbara Zambelli, Presiding
Wednesday morning, July 30, the trial of Carmela Magnetti, close friend of Ann Trevato, who was convicted nine months ago of having murdered her mother, Patricia Mery, in the mother’s Ossining home, May 11, 2006, continued in Westchester County Court before Judge Barbara Zambelli. Magnetti is accused of bringing Trevato to her mother’s house, and picking her up the day of the murder, as well as lying to police regarding her’s and Trevato’s whereabouts.
Magnetti is represented by Attorney Ted Brundage. Assistant District Attorneys Tim Ward and Lana Hochheiser are prosecuting the case.
Prior to opening the proceedings, Judge Zambelli told a court officer, “We need to speak with a juror.” She then identified the juror and asked the offi-cer to bring her in. The juror expressed concerns that she might not have enough time to serve given the schedule the Judge had laid out with several days off.
Zambelli responded, “That’s why I said it would be a five-week trial, beginning July 28.”
The trial resumed with a single question of cross-examination of the Defendant’s husband by Attorney Brundage for the purpose of establishing that the witness knew the police officer who had testified ahead of him, the previous day. The prosecution then
brought on Dr. Joseph Magaro, husband of Patricia Mery’s sister, Maureen. Tim Ward established that he was an opthalmologist affiliated with Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, and that he and his wife live in Greenwich, Connecticut, having previously lived in Harrison.
Ward asked, “Did you know Ann Trevato?” Dr. Magaro answered, “Yes.”
Ward: “Who is she?”
Magaro: “She was Patricia’s daughter.”
Ward: “Did Patricia Mery ever store items at your house?”
Ward: “During the time that Patricia was bringing things to your house, did you see much of Ann Trevato?”
Magaro: “She would bring her child to swim in the pool.”
Shifting gears, Ward then explored an incident in August, 2005 when Pat Mery and Ann Trevato made an unexpected visit to Dr. Magaro’s office in Bronxville. Magaro responded, “Ann presented three letters and a list of phone numbers to me while Patricia sat weeping.”
Ward then attempted to focus on the list of phone numbers, but Defense Attorney Brundage objected and was sustained.
Ward then asked Judge Zambelli if they could “approach”, but was denied permission. Ward attempted a second time, but Brundage objected and was sustained. At that point, Ward proceeded to question the doctor regarding the letters. His witness responded, “I couldn’t believe what was written in the letters.”
Ward: “Did they refer to your wife Maureen?”
The witness, Dr. Magaro, acknowledged that they did, and, under further questioning, admitted that although he was asked not to share the content of the letters with his wife, he had, in fact, done so. At that point, Judge Zambelli sent the jury out, and temporarily excused the witness. Then, addressing Tim Ward, she said, “I’m mostly concerned with the Rules Of Evidence. What are you offering them for?”
Ward’s response did not satisfy the Judge, and she came right back with, “Tell me where they come in under the Rules Of Evidence. I understand that it is a circumstantial case.”
Attorney Brundage spoke up, declaring, “There is no link to my client. It would impermissibly dirty my client.” Then, suddenly, Zambelli indicated that she was going to let the letters come in.
Brundage began to object strongly, but to no avail. Zambelli, as if to quell his objections, told Brundage, “They have heard what they have heard. I have sustained a lot of your objections, Mr. Brundage, now the jury is going to receive them in evidence, not for the truth of their content.”
Zambelli then brought the jurors, and the witness, back into the courtroom. She then informed the jurors, “The Court has overruled the Defense objections. The letters will be admitted into evidence. They are not offered for the truth of what is contained in them.” At that point, Dr. Magaro was handed all three letters, Prosecution Exhibits C, D, and E, which he then proceeded to read aloud to the jury.
The principal concern of a trial judge, when deciding whether to let in, or keep out, a particular item offered in evidence, involves the issue of probativeness versus prejudiciousness. Simply stated, a judge must calculate how informative, how helpful, knowledge of the evidence is likely to be in the jury’s search for the truth, as opposed to how likely exposure to it by the jury will be to unfairly prejudice their opinion.
In the case at bar, the letters read into the record, and admitted as evidence, are at best only attenuated in their connection to the defendant.
Having allowed them in so early in the trial, although accompanied by the Judge’s cautionary statement, nonetheless may have a significant impact on the mindset of the jury, given their mysterious and prophetic nature. And, as defense counsel Brundage argued unsuccessfully, “One cannot unring a bell once rung.”
Couple Convicted Of Distributing Drugs
In The Bronx And Westchester County
MICHAEL J. GARCIA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the conviction of DONAHUE
DEWAR and SHARON KING of participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, distributing cocaine and marijuana, and
possessing firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, following a two-week jury trial before United States District Judge STEPHEN
C. ROBINSON. According to the evidence at trial: Between January 2003 and August 2005, DEWAR and KING operated a lucrative cocaine and marijuana dealing operation from their house on Mickle Avenue in the Bronx. DEWAR and KING’s cocaine supplier shipped them multiple kilograms of cocaine at a time from Houston, Texas, packaged in hollowed-out computer parts, which DEWAR and KING then sold in the Bronx and Westchester County. The defendants also sold large amounts of marijuana that they obtained from Arizona.
DEWAR and KING were each arrested on August 28, 2005, in connection with a planned sale of three kilograms of cocaine in Pelham
Manor, Westchester County, to a confidential informant working with Couple Convicted Of Distributing Drugs In The Bronx And Westchester County the Harrison Police Department.
Police seized the three kilograms of cocaine, then executed a search warrant for DEWAR and KING’s Mickle Avenue house, where they found an additional kilogram of cocaine, several pounds of marijuana, large shipping drums that reeked of marijuana, approximately $70,000 in cash, a high-tech surveillance system, four-loaded handguns, and other evidence. DEWAR was found guilty of five counts: conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, two counts of distributing cocaine, distributing marijuana, and a firearms charge. An additional firearms charge was dismissed.
KING was found guilty of four counts: conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, distributing cocaine, distributing marijuana, and a firearms charge. DEWAR is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge ROBINSON on November 4, 2008, at 12:00 p.m., and KING is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge ROBINSON on November 5, 2008, at 12:00 p.m. DEWAR faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years imprisonment and a maximum potential sentence of life imprisonment.
KING faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum potential sentence of life imprisonment. Mr. GARCIA praised the cooperative investigative efforts of the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force and the
Harrison Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorneys BRENT WIBLE and PERRY A. CARBONE were in charge of the prosecution.