[B][SIZE=4]Suffolk DA drops Martin Tankleff murder case[/SIZE][/B]
BY MICHAEL AMON AND MICHAEL FRAZIER
"This office's prosecution and criminal investigation into the deaths of Arlene and Seymour Tankleff has ended," Spota said at a news conference in Hauppauge. The charges will be formally dismissed at a Jan. 18 court conference, said Spota, who declined to answer questions.
On that day, Spota said he will take a step he has resisted - ask Gov. Eliot Spitzer to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Tankleff's allegation that hired hitmen carried out the slayings. Spota cast doubt on that theory, saying it is "just not supported by the credible evidence."
The announcement caught Tankleff and his defense attorneys by surprise. Attorney Bruce Barket said he was expecting a call from Spota's office, though he did not know what the call would be about. Then, at about 3:30 p.m., he and Tankleff watched Spota's news conference live on the Internet.
Later, appearing almost overwhelmed by a throng of reporters, Tankleff spoke publicly for the first time since his release on bail on Dec. 27 following an Appellate Division ruling vacating his conviction. "It's finally here, 20 long years," said Tankleff, now 36, who was convicted and sent to prison at age 19. "I'm relieved, but I never should've been charged in the first place."
Outside the two-story Westbury home where Tankleff has been staying with relatives, his cousin Ron Falbee said, "We're thrilled with the decision. We think it's the right one. It's just 19 years too late."
Suffolk police and prosecutors immediately suspected Tankleff of the Sept. 7, 1988, killings of his parents, Seymour, 62, and Arlene, 54. Tricked into believing his father had awakened and accused him, Martin Tankleff gave a rambling confession he later refused to sign and recanted.
A jury convicted him in 1990 of intentionally murdering his father, but acquitted him of the intentional murder of his mother, opting for the alternate charge of depraved indifference murder, a move that would prove fateful 17 years later. He was sentenced to 50 years to life.
Tankleff maintained his innocence in prison and attorneys and investigators who worked pro bono turned up more than two dozen witnesses who implicated other possible suspects. They included Jerard Steuerman, a business associate of Seymour Tankleff who owed him more than $500,000, faked his own death, changed his name and fled to California after the killings; and two career criminals, Joseph Creedon and Peter Kent, who the witnesses said were paid by Steuerman to kill the Tankleffs.
In 2006, County Court Judge Stephen Braslow dismissed the witnesses, who included Creedon's son, as "nefarious scoundrels" and refused a new trial. But the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court disagreed last month, saying their testimony, when considered along with how the disputed confession was obtained, would likely sway a jury to acquit Tankleff.
Any special prosecutor would have to investigate Steuerman, Creedon and Kent "closely," said Miller Place defense attorney and former Suffolk chief trial prosecutor Steven Wilutis.
Creedon's attorney, Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, said that would be "an utter waste of time and resources."
Kent's attorney, Thomas Lavallee, said he is "absolutely not concerned" about potential charges against his client.
Spitzer spokesman Erroll Cockfield said the request for a special prosecutor would be "carefully reviewed."
Spota didn't say why he requested a special prosecutor. Tankleff's defense has long called on Spota to recuse himself from the case because of his connections to key players in Tankleff's original prosecution. As a private attorney, Spota represented K. James McCready, the detective who tricked Tankleff into confessing. And Spota's law firm had represented Steuerman and his family.
Spota did not say that he believed Tankleff to be innocent. Rather, Spota noted the difficulty of prosecuting a 20-year-old case and said recent court rulings prevented him from trying him on a charge of depraved indifference murder for his mother and the intentional murder of his father at the same time.
"The evidence clearly shows that both victims were intentionally murdered," Spota said.
Staff writers Jennifer Sinco Kelleher, Alfonso Castillo and Sophia Chang contributed to this story.
[/quote]So if you are Marty Tankleff, what are you doing tonight?
Last edited by Tyler Durden; 01-03-2008 at 08:21 AM.
So if you are Marty Tankleff, what are you doing tonight?[/quote]
oh, just the usual....before i replay jets extra point on the tivo,
nosh a few bagels, hit the barbells, go to the cemetery to spit on my quasi-parents graves before it closes its gates for the night, take a spin in the new rolls