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After Jury Convicted Ernest Murphy On Drugs and Guns Charges Judge Sullivan Unseals US Letter

By Matthew Russell Lee, @SDNYLIVE

SDNY COURTHOUSE, August 22 -- A jury returned guilty verdicts on drugs and gun charges on August 20 against Ernest Murphy, one of 15 defendants in a Brooklyn-based narcotics conspiracy case brought by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

   It came after some electronic and laboratory evidence was suppressed by Circuit Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who rather than re-assigning has kept many of his criminal cases in the SDNY.

 Now only two days AFTER the guilty verdict, Judge Sullivan has ordered unsealed docket entry 418, including: "Dear Judge Sullivan: The Government respectfully submits this letter as requested by the Court regarding the admissibility of certain testimony of a cooperating witness (“CW-1”) regarding the defendant’s request of coconspirator, Larry Bayer, to retrieve a firearm the defendant used in a 2013 shooting and the defendant’s subsequent threat to assault Bayer when he refused. The testimony is necessary to provide context for a call (the “Call”) intercepted over the wiretaps in this case in February 2018.1  For the reasons that follow, CW-1 should be permitted to testify about the 2013 events in the Government’s case-in-chief at trial. I. Background At trial, the Government will introduce into evidence the Call, which occurred on February 9, 2018 between coconspirator Tyshawn Burgess and CW-1. In the Call, the two discuss, among other things, the defendant’s worker, Tyquan Robinson, a/k/a “Blacko,” and their suspicion that he is a “rat,” following his arrest at the stash house he shared with the defendant at 672 Decatur Street on January 5, 2018. They further discuss that the defendant threatened to cut coconspirator Larry Bayer after he refused to retrieve a gun for the defendant. (Burgess: “E was mad at Larry back in the days for not picking up a gun when Larry could’ve did but didn’t do it” / Curtis: “I remember that hell yea he was going to cut Larry as a matter of fact”). Burgess then states that the defendant should “cut” Robinson. (“Look cut Blacko niggas kicked in your crib my nigga you got the cops the cops went to your house bro.”). The Government expects CW-1 to testify, in sum and substance, that CW-1 learned in a conversation with coconspirator Bayer in or around the summer of 2013, that the defendant had asked Bayer to retrieve a firearm, which had been left in trash bin, before police found it." We'll have more on this.

  Murphy's two Criminal Justice Act lawyers, Patrick Joyce and Robert Moore, complained to Judge Sullivan on the eve of trial 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.

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  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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