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Amid Coronavirus Bronx Alleged Murderer Denied Bail For Fourth Time By Judge Rakoff

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
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SDNY COURTHOUSE, March 26 -- For the September 2018 murder of Christopher Pierce, defendant Jonathan Colon was presented and detailed on consent by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave on March 24.

 Inner City Press was the only media present when the capital review process was cited, then four other co-defendants were presented, see below.

 On March 25 Assistant US Attorney Allison Nichols wrote to Part 1 Judge Jed S. Rakoff opposing lead defendant Julio Ozuna's fourth attempt to be released on bail, all filed by his well resourced Criminal Justice Act counsel at Milbank.

  This counsel argued for an hour by telephone with AUSA Nichols before Judge Rakoff, the access number to which was graciously provided, a practice we hope will continue for other Part 1 appeals proceedings if by phone. It is appreciated, in these extraordinary times.

  Judge Rakoff expounded his position that the Coronavirus crisis militates for release on risk of flight grounds, but that the danger to the community prong has change in the other direction, with police ranks also diminished. He inquired into the evidence, and a previous decision of his on felony murder. At the end he did not release Ozuna, but said that if conditions change in the MCC the next Part 1 judge might view things differently.

  As Inner City Press reported on this week, Judge Rakoff in his own cases released one defendant awaiting sentencing while remanding another awaiting trial for selling guns (in full disclosure, Inner City Press also on March 25 asked Judge Rakoff to refer, as Part 1 judge, its ouster from the Magistrates Court on the motion of the US Attorney's Office, here.) Inner City Press intends to cover this and other Part 1 appeals; watch this site.

On March 24, several of Ozuna's co-defendants were released on bail, one after an unsuccessful appeal by AUSA Nichols to SDNY Chief Judge Colleen McMahon.

   Khalil Suggs had his parents in the courtroom when Judge Cave ordered him released.

AUSA Nichols asked for and received a stay, and went to the other side of the SDNY's 24th floor to appeal. But Chief Judge McMahon said Magistrate Judge Cave had it right, and allowed for the release.

  Moments later co-defendant Erick Oleago was represented before Judge Cave by Sabrina Shroff, who announced that a case of Coronavirus had been identified in the MCC jail and 11 North locked down.

When Judge Cave ordered Oleago released, the AUSA did not mention any appeal. The case is US v. Ozuna, et al., 20-cr-213 (Vyskocil / Cave).  


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