Tag Archive | "murder"

Bronx gang member convicted once, now tried again for the same murder

The second day in the retrial of a Bronx gang member charged with killing a 10-year-old girl and paralyzing another Bronx man began with pointed cross examination of the defendant’s St. James Boys associate, the prosecution’s key witness.

Enrique Sanchez, stony and monosyllabic, recalled very little about the shootings or their aftermath in his nearly three-hour testimony in Bronx Supreme Court yesterday. On trial is Edgar Morales, who is being charged with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and possession of a deadly weapon for the 12-year-old incident.

Morales’s original trial gained fame when the Bronx District Attorney charged him in 2007 with a slew of offenses, including terrorism for “striking fear in the hearts of residents and business owners.” Morales, now 32, became the first lone gang member convicted under the new terrorism statute that was passed days after the 9/11 attacks. The charge that was accompanied by a stiffer jail sentence was overruled as overreaching by the State’s Court of Appeals two years ago. It then ordered a new trial.

The original crime took place on the evening of August 17, 2002, when the St. James Boys street gang erupted into an argument that turned fatal at a christening celebration at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran church in Parkchester. Ten-year-old Melanny Mendez died after a stray bullet struck her in the back of the head. Javier Tocchimani, a rival gang member, was paralyzed after being shot three times.

Both Morales and Sanchez were present at the scene of the crime. Sanchez told the court he was drunk at the time of the incident and that he only saw someone get hit by the bullet.

Morales’ defense team attempted to discredit Sanchez’s testimony by making references to conflicting accounts he has given over the last seven years in court, in interviews, and to detectives as far away as Arizona. Sanchez’s primary response to a majority of the questions asked during cross examination was, “I don’t remember.”

Eventually the defense asked, “Is your entire story about Edgar Morales doing the shooting a total fabrication?” Sanchez replied with the familiar, “I don’t remember.”

Sanchez was arrested in March 2004 for possession of a .38-caliber handgun. He was later indicted by the Bronx District Attorney for second degree murder charges in the shooting outside St. Paul’s Church and was facing between 15 years to life in prison. The DA’s office offered to lower the charges in exchange for Sanchez’s cooperation in Morales’ 2007 trial. He eventually served seven years in jail for manslaughter and was released in the beginning of 2011.

A few days prior to his release, Sanchez told the court, he was visited in prison by a pair of investigators and a pair of attorneys, all of them working on the Morales case. He claimed they wanted Sanchez “to help them out, for Edgar.” Sanchez testified that he was assured confidentiality in exchange for his cooperation.

“They were harassing me too much already,” said Sanchez. When asked by the defense if he remembered becoming emotional during the investigators’ visit, saying he did not want Morales to face time away from his child, Sanchez replied, “I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember breaking down?” Attorney Matthew Fishbein asked. “Is that something you could forget?”

The prosecution, which was led by Assistant District Attorney Christine Scaccia, said its office had worked with Sanchez for nearly ten years and believed that he gave a reliable account of what went down on August 17, 2002. A member of the team added that the St. James Boys gang had been terrorizing the Mexican-American community in St. James Park in Fordham for years through intimidation, murder, drug activities, and other gang-related violence.

Mendez’s mother, Antonia Gutierrez, was present in court. She hoped for the sentencing to rule in favor of the prosecution and to see Morales “stay in jail.”

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Woman’s body found in plastic container on street – Son charged for murder

The body of a dead woman was found in a plastic storage container on 1460 Macombs Road in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx at about 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Police said a building superintendent found Tihesha Savage, 34, with a gunshot wound in the back of her head, the New York Daily News reported.

Police arrested Savage’s 16-year-old son Darwin Jackson. They charged him with second-degree murder, manslaughter and criminal weapons possession.

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Bodega Robbery Suspects Charged with Murder in Cuevas Shooting

Christopher Dorsey’s aunt said her 17-year-old nephew was pressured by the older suspects in the robbery and ultimate death of a bodega worker in the Bronx.  (SADEF A. KULLY/ Bronx Ink)

Three Bronx men arrested for robbing the bodega where worker Reynaldo Cuevas ended up shot and killed by a police officer were arraigned Friday in Bronx Criminal Court on charges of both armed robbery and murder.

Defendants Ernesto Delgado, 28, Orlando Ramos, 31, and Christopher Dorsey, 17, appeared before Judge Villages yesterday.  Family members of the suspects argued outside the courtroom that the murder charge was not fair.

“Honestly, I feel like he shouldn’t be charged – he was committing a crime but he didn’t shoot him,” said Antonio Rodriquez, 21, brother of Orlando Ramos, about the death of Cuevas. “I think this is a way for the state to clean their hands – that cop shot him.”

The Bronx District Attorney’s office has no comment on the case.

Police said an officer accidentally shot Reynaldo Cuevas, after the 20-year-0ld Morrisania bodega worker stumbled out of the armed robbery scene on September 7.  Cuevas’s family members dispute the claim that the officer’s gun discharged accidentally and have called for an investigation.

The youngest of those charged in the incident, Christopher Dorsey, 17, looked anxious and emotional in court.

“He was the first one that came out,” said his grandmother, Anna Cabrera. “He surrendered. He was so scared that day. He is not doing well inside.”

“He is actually a good kid, he gets good grades, and he was definitely peer pressured into this. He has never held a gun.”

Dorsey’s aunt. Jadeira Cruz, 39, said that her nephew had been diagnosed as emotionally disturbed.

“I think the older men took advantage of his mental status,” said Cruz. “He has the mind of a 13-year old.”

Dorsey’s lawyer. Cesar Gonzalez said that it was his first appearance in court with the defendant and that he would have to review all the material before making an official statement on the case.

Maria Tobia, lawyer for Orlando Ramos, did not give any comments on the case.

All three defendants are scheduled to be back on court on Sept 20th.

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Community mourns suspicious death of Soundview teen

”]A stranger found the body of Anil Sankar on the boat launch at Concrete Plant Park around 6 a.m. on Sept. 12.

The 18-year-old’s face was torn open at the temple and bruised around his mouth. His nose was smashed in and his hands were scratched. One plastic sandal had been discarded on the bank and another floated in the shallow water, not far from where he lay.

On a grassy patch, a packet of Newport cigarettes, soggy with dew, had been ripped in half and thrown aside.

“They say he hit his head and drowned,” said his father, Teakaram Sankar, as the Sankar family, who moved to the Bronx from Guyana 17 years ago, gathered in their small Boynton Avenue living room for a vigil to remember Anil. Police have dismissed his son’s death as accidental. “But I figure that’s impossible.”
As they sat together, the Sankar family passed phone records and emails between them and tried to piece together what happened the night that Anil disappeared. His sister-in-law, Natasha Sankar, held up a phone log showing that hours before he died, Anil made an 80-minute call to the mother of his girlfriend. The young couple had fallen out, said his mother, Mohaine. She remembered telling Anil to pray at the family shrine that Sunday morning, while he worked on the music he made on their home computer. The whole family agreed that Anil was not apt to hang around the park alone at night.

The Sankars may never know the truth of what happened that Sunday evening. The detective assigned to the case said it is closed. But the surrounding community has rallied around their grief nonetheless – to share their sadness, to protest the lack of safety in Concrete Park, and to highlight growing violence among their youth.

“I hope all the young people in the community can look at this and see that violence is not the answer,” said Natasha as she addressed the assembled mourners in the park four weeks after his death.

Over a hundred concerned residents and friends of Anil walked from the Sankar home to Concrete Plant Park on Oct. 16, to show their support for the family and their concern for rising levels of violence among young people in the Bronx. Felony assaults are up 10 percent in the district from last year, an increase of 33 incidents. A local resident confirmed that since Anil’s death, another young boy has been mugged at gunpoint in broad daylight in the park.

As the vigil progressed, residents passed by an unsecured hydraulic pole that is supposed to stop vehicles from entering the park and through a gate that stays open all night. The path runs by the river on one side and open fences onto the Metro North lines on the other. Two expressways, an elevated train line and a residential road surround the area.

“It’s the perfect place to prey on women or children if you’re an opportunist,” said Ephrain Cruz of the community group Bronx For Change. “We need to highlight that this park is not secure.”

Concrete Plant Park opened on an old industrial site in 2009, after a 10-year funding battle to restore the land and return it to the community by faith-based community group Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

“That park was developed as a safe space for young people,” said Julian Terrell from Youth Ministries. “Putting up gates to prevent people from getting in sets the wrong precedent.”

On Sunday evening, as the trains rattled by, the Sankar family laid candles and incense above the jetty where Anil Sankar’s body was found. His sister Anita lit one of his favorite Newport cigarettes and tucked it behind a purple bottle of pina colada flavored drink. The crowd gathered with candles to hear stories about Sankar’s life from his friends. His family stood quietly, unable to speak.

Towards the end of the vigil, Bronx Assemblyman Marcus Crespo stood forward to talk about ending violence among young people in the Bronx.

“The answers don’t lie somewhere else,” Crespo said. “They lie right here with all of us. It’s about our respect for one another.”

When the meeting was over and the crowds dispersed, Ephrain Cruz said: “Crespo says the answers lie with us. But this park does not belong to us. It is looked after by the state.”

Back at the Sankars’ two-bedroom apartment, young children ran between a gilded Hindu shrine and display cabinets stuffed with family photos. Mohaine Sankar clutched at a tissue, holding it against the white t-shirt printed with a photo of her son.

Mohaine knew Anil had broken up with his girlfriend the day before he died. The Sunday he disappeared, she checked on him in the peach-coloured bedroom he shared with his twin sister, Kumarie, and their 15-year-old brother, Robin.

“He laid back on the bed with his arm above his head,” said Mohaine. “He was really worried about something.”

“The police don’t want us to call people and ask what happened,” said Anil’s sister-in-law Natasha. “They say for us to wait, but they’re not doing anything. We need to know.”

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Police release video of murder suspects, NY Daily News

Police yesterday released a video of two men wanted for beating a Fordham father to death, mugging him for $15, according to the New York Daily News.  The suspects attacked Bimal Chanda, 59, on the second-floor landing of his apartment Saturday.

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Binghamton man accused of killing Bronx man, Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin

Police have charged Binghamton resident Joseph A. Ross-Jones, 25, with killing Bronx resident Daniel Martinez, 27, according to the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin. Police say Martinez, found in a wooded area with a gun shot and stab wounds, died of “multiple traumatic injuries and blood loss.” Jones has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge.


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Two found dead in apparent Bronx murder-suicide, NY1

Police found a man and woman dead in a Bronx apartment in an apparent murder-suicide, NY1 reports.

Investigators say they found Marie Jannette Lawrence, 30, shot to death in her apartment at 2084 Grand Avenue in Morris Heights Friday afternoon.

Batu McClary-Griggs, 37, was also found dead on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head.


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Construction worker stabbed to death in Mott Haven


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Blood stains on the pavement across the street from Joel Rojas' house in Mott Haven, the morning after he was stabbed to death. In the background, passersby condole his sisters, who set up a small memorial under the mailbox where he was found. (NASR UL HADI/The Bronx Ink)

Joel Rojas must have fought hard for his life.

The trail of blood on East 138th Street in Mott Haven was nearly a block long. It began outside the storefront church at 467, reappeared on a red sports Pontiac parked all the way up at 481, and ended under a mailbox next to it.

When the emergency team arrived shortly after midnight on Saturday, the mailbox was dented, with scratches all around the impact. Rojas, who lived in an apartment just across the street, lay there bleeding from a stab wound to his abdomen. He had almost made it home.

The medics rushed him to Lincoln Hospital, but Rojas was declared dead on arrival at 1:35 am. Police had informed the 24-year-old’s family–his parents, two younger sisters, wife and 3-year-old daughter, Analia.

This stabbing is part of a recent surge in violence across the 40th Precinct. Last weekend, there were six shooting incidents, one of them fatal. The homicide count till October 2 this year is 15, up 15.4 percent from 2010.

Around noon on Saturday, Rojas’ sisters set up a small memorial with candles and bouquets under the mailbox where he was found. A cardboard carton sheltered the candles from the wind, with “R.I.P. Cholo” and “Shortiiee loves you” scribbled on it. Passersby paid their respects and asked how he died, but the family had no explanation.

“We don’t know who my brother was out with or why, because he lived alone in his apartment,” said Laura “Shortiiee” Rojas, a high school freshman, who lives with her parents in another building on the same block. She claimed that there were “a lot of people here who hated Cholo for no reason.”

But most of the gathered mourners weren’t sure they knew him at all. “There’s no photograph of him,” pointed out a woman who lived in the same building, “so I don’t know who it was. But it’s tragic that he was so young.”

People outside the House of Faith Ministries, the church where Rojas’ blood marked the site of the attack, said that two gangs, the Mexicanos and the Chicanos, shared this neighborhood. Brook Avenue, just a block away from Rojas’ home, serves as the dividing line for the gangs’ territories, they said.

But detectives who spent most of the afternoon interrogating people in the neighborhood said that the connection was still speculative. “We keep hearing about the gang rivalry here,” said one of the investigators, “but there’s nothing conclusive yet. We are still looking.”

Rojas’ sister too insisted that her brother, who worked in construction, didn’t hang out with any “bad people.”

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