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In SDNY Judge Sullivan Sentences Kerry Felix To 160 Months Asking Why Others Given Better Plea Deals

By Matthew Russell Lee, @SDNYLIVE

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 20 -- Seven weeks after a jury returned guilty verdicts on drugs and gun charges on August 20 against Ernest Murphy, on September 7 one of Murphy's 15 co-defendants, Kerry Felix came up for sentencing in the the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

 Like Murphy's trial, this sentencing was before now-Circuit Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who rather than re-assigning has kept many of his criminal cases in the SDNY. And Judge Sullivan had many questions for Assistant US Attorney Matthew Hellman, about disparities in sentencing and what he called the "let's make a deal" style of the U.S. Attorney's office.

  That Office was pushing for 195 to 228 months in prison for Kerry Felix, after giving a lower floor to co-defendant Tyrell Sumpter. Judge Sullivan asked why, and Hellman did not have an answer that Sullivan found convincing.

  This ended up benefiting Kerry Felix. Judge Sullivan told him that in many other Districts, with other U.S. Attorneys, he would have not gotten below the 20 year mandatory minimum for the crimes he was accused of. But the SDNY prosecutors allowed him to plead to lesser included offenses with a 10 year minimum.

 Judge Sullivan sentenced Kerry Felix to 160 months, over 13 years - less than 20, and less than the 15 Judge Sullivan said he had woken up in the morning intended to sentence Felix too. It appears that Tyshawn Burgess will get above the 10 year minimum - and Inner City Press will follow this sentencing, and that of Tyquan Robinson. The overall case is US v. Burgess, 18-cr-00373 (Sullivan).

  At the trial, Murphy's two Criminal Justice Act lawyers, Patrick Joyce and Robert Moore, complained to Judge Sullivan that they had only then been given 16 gigabytes of audio and video recordings and lab tests on crack cocaine.

  Rather than delay the trial, Judge Sullivan ordered much of it suppressed. During the five day trial the government still had a number of NYPD lab technicians testimony, and played wiretaps of cell phone calls and calls from Riker's Island, whose location in The Bronx was cited as a basis for venue in the SDNY.

  In the intercepted calls, there was discussion of cooking, packaging and selling crack cocaine. Several times reference was made to bringing firearms to protect turf. A government slang expert witness said that "Shaquille" jersey meant .32 caliber pistol.

  After the jury got the case, they asked to examine the drugs. Judge Sullivan declined to send the crack and ecstacy pills into the jury room. Instead the juror came out and passed them hand to hand, in evidence bags, in the jury box.

 On the second day of deliberations the jury through the Court Security Officer passed a note that they wanted all audio recordings and transcripts. Judge Sullivan sent them in a thumb drive and three binders, as well as a menu to order lunch.

  But barely an hour later, the jury returned with its guilty verdicts. Judge Sullivan polled them, sent December 6 as the sentencing date - Murphy faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and perhaps more - then joined the jurors for their lunch. The case is US v. Ernest Murphy, 18-cr-373 (Sullivan).

  The US Attorney's Office, which had sent senior AUSA Michael D. Maimin over to try to put out the fire occasioned by the late discovery, must have breathed a sigh of relief. Inner City Press will continue to cover this case - and, we hope, Judge Sullivan's sentencing in another case he kept, US v. Rodriguez (05-cr-221), which the government is asking, under seal, to have sealed. Watch this site.

SDNY 500

  Judge Sullivan several times during the trial pointedly noted that it is an open courtroom, a strength of our system, anyone can just walk in -- except for US v. Rodriguez, apparently, on which Inner City Press will have more, as well as on the differences between the SDNY's and EDNY's boiler plate plea agreement letters. Watch this site - and see also @InnerCityPress and the new @SDNYLIVE.


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