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In SDNY Harlem Murder Case Tales of Stolen Chains and Slashings Charging Conference in Shackles

By Matthew Russell Lee

SDNY COURTHOUSE, April 3 – In the trial of US v. Bright for the murder of Amaury Paulino on Christmas Eve 2014 on 129th Street and St Nicholas Avenue, on April 3 another government witness was cross examined about his own drug dealing, in an almost Samuel Becket colloquy. "One of your friends had a very big chain, correct?" he was asked. "He had a chain taken." "He had someone slash the person he thought took it? Did Skeeter do the slashing for Junie?" Neighborhood residents in the gallery of Courtroom 110 audibly laughed, as did at least one juror. Later Judge Katherine Polk Failla told the lawyers that she would play it by ear with the jurors if, for example, summations and the jury charge finish on Friday April 5 and they want to stay past 2:45 pm.

  The charging conference is set for April 4, not in the half light of Courtroom 110 but upstairs in the smaller but better illuminated Courtroom 618; defendant Bright wants to be there and so he shall, with two marshals in shackles. Inner City Press may have to be in 500 Pearl without electronics at that time - but now to be in  Katherine Polk Faillanow has some exhibits, two video views of St. Nicholas Avenue on the night in question, the line up photos, autopsy notes. Now if only the government had witnesses who weren't themselves drug dealers, with barely audible denials or "I don't remember" answers... A previous government witness was asked about his own gambling, robbing of drug dealers and selling of fake drugs. He admitted to spending $150 a day on dice and card games, taking narcotic pills, selling soap and shaved sheetrock as drugs. He was questioning about what he told Probation Officer Stephanie McMahon for his own pre-sentencing report, a document usually said sealed until a defendant appeals. Bright's lawyer asked him questions in English, to which Martinez in Spanish often said, What do you mean? Or even, What does he mean?

 Judge Katherine Polk Failla several times stepped in to ask her own questions to clarify things, then instructed Martinez not to discuss his testimony during the lunch break, after which there would be more questions for him, re-direct and perhaps a detective, the government said. Martinez was led out, as was one defendant. We'll have more on this trial.


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