Man convicted in retrial that eyed ex-star sleuth’s conduct

Aug 30, 2022, 7:19 PM | Updated: Aug 31, 2022, 10:19 am
Eliseo DeLeon, left, is greeted by his lawyer Cary London in the hallway at the Kings County Suprem...

Eliseo DeLeon, left, is greeted by his lawyer Cary London in the hallway at the Kings County Supreme Court in the Brooklyn borough of New York on Wednesday Aug. 31, 2022. Justice Dena Douglas rendered a guilty verdict in the first retrial to result from almost a decade of scrutiny of former New York City homicide detective, Louis Scarcella, who was seen as a case-cracking star in the 1980s and '90s, but was later accused of framing suspects. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

(AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

NEW YORK (AP) — A man was convicted again Wednesday in the first retrial stemming from scrutiny of a once-lauded New York City homicide detective who was later accused of framing suspects.

A stunned Eliseo DeLeon looked up at the ceiling at one point as Brooklyn Judge Dena Douglas delivered a verdict that could return the 45-year-old to prison for life. DeLeon chose to have Douglas hear the case without a jury.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said that “compelling eyewitness accounts provided proof beyond reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt at both the original trial and again today.”

DeLeon’s lawyer, Cary London, said he was “clearly disappointed” in the verdict and would weigh legal options while awaiting his Sept. 14 sentencing.

“I still believe in his innocence,” London said.

DeLeon was imprisoned for nearly a quarter-century before Douglas threw out his murder conviction in 2019 and granted him a new trial. He was free meanwhile but was taken back into custody after the verdict.

He could be sentenced to resume the 25-years-to-life term that he was serving before his original conviction was thrown out.

DeLeon is among nearly 20 people whose convictions have been overturned over the last decade in cases involving long-retired Detective Louis Scarcella, who denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors exonerated, or at least declined to retry, most of those people but decided to proceed against DeLeon. Gonzalez said Wednesday’s guilty verdict validated how his office decides whether or not to disavow convictions in cases involving Scarcella.

“We ask to vacate when we find misconduct or violations of due process rights and stand by convictions when the evidence supports findings of guilt,” the DA said in a statement.

But London still maintains that Scarcella engaged in “malfeasance and illegal tactics” in DeLeon’s case.

DeLeon was 18 when arrested in the death of Fausto Cordero, who was gunned down during an attempted robbery on a Brooklyn street in 1995. Cordero was heading home from a religious confirmation party with his wife, 7-year-old son and niece.

Witnesses including Cordero’s wife and a stranger identified DeLeon as the gunman, and police said he confessed.

But after a video camera was turned on, DeLeon balked and asked for a lawyer, saying he was willing to talk but wouldn’t “be a fool, put myself on tape and say I did something I didn’t do.” A judge barred the video from his initial trial.

DeLeon’s lawyers said that police manufactured the alleged confession, that the witness identification procedures were flawed, that the results were inaccurate and that everything was tainted by the involvement of Scarcella and his then-partner Detective Stephen Chmil.

Prosecutors said Scarcella and Chmil weren’t driving forces in DeLeon’s case, noting that they didn’t testify at his original trial or the preceding hearings. Prosecutors emphasized that the two eyewitnesses returned to court and stood by their identifications from 27 years earlier.

Chmil and another detective were assigned to lead the investigation. Police paperwork shows that Scarcella participated at least in arresting DeLeon and reading him his rights. The detective testified that he didn’t recall the case at all.

At the time, Scarcella was a case-cracking star in a city that was beginning to tame a crack-cocaine-era surge in killings and other violent crime. He worked on an estimated 200 homicide investigations before retiring in 1999, notching arrests in a roster of headline-making cases.

Those included the stabbing that injured a noted dancer/choreographer, the killing of a woman found with an ax in her skull, and the strangling of a developmentally disabled man in a $20 robbery. Scarcella also was credited with building a case against the alleged leader of a murderous, multimillion-dollar crack ring and solving the separate killings of a well-known rabbi, an off-duty correction officer and a subway token clerk set ablaze in his booth.

But over the past decade, a slate of defendants have accused Scarcella and Chmil of extracting false confessions and manipulating witnesses into finger-pointing people they didn’t actually see.

The men convicted of killing the rabbi, the token booth clerk and the jail guard have been cleared. The alleged crack kingpin’s conviction was overturned in June. Prosecutors are appealing that ruling, and they also consider many other convictions sound in cases involving Scarcella.

A former Brooklyn judge said in 2014 that the detective repeatedly engaged in “false and misleading practices,” a finding that Scarcella has called incorrect.

He and Chmil stand by their work. Their lawyers have said that the detectives used lawful techniques and that their cases were vetted by prosecutors who green-lighted arrests and went through the evidence.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Vice President Kamala Harris waits outside the Vice President's Sept. 16, 2022, in Washingto...
Associated Press

Ceremony and controversy await Harris during visit to Asia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attending funerals on behalf of the United States is normally a straightforward assignment for a vice president, but Kamala Harris will confront controversy at nearly every turn as she visits Asia for the memorial honoring former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. American allies are seeking clarity after mixed messages over whether President […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Fire breaks out at world’s biggest produce market in Paris

PARIS (AP) — Paris firefighters are battling a warehouse blaze at a massive produce market that supplies France’s capital and its surrounding region with much of its fresh food and bills itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Footage shared on social media of the blaze Sunday at the Rungis market showed […]
1 day ago
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooti...
Associated Press

Democrats in Florida seek to win over Latinos on gun control

MIAMI (AP) — Annette Taddeo walked to a podium overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay and described to her audience how she had fled terrorism as a teenager in Colombia and now feared for the safety of her 16-year-old daughter at an American public school. A blue and bright orange bus behind the Democratic congressional candidate carried […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pakistan police arrest journalist they say aided son’s crime

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani police arrested a veteran journalist for his alleged involvement in his son’s beating death of his new wife at their suburban home, police said Sunday. Police officer Mohammad Faizan said Ayaz Amir, a well-known columnist and TV political analyst in Pakistan, appeared in court in the capital of Islamabad on Sunday […]
1 day ago
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table after the d...
Associated Press

Prosecutors to begin Florida school shooter trial rebuttal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors in the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz will begin their rebuttal case Tuesday, challenging his attorneys’ contention that he murdered 17 people because his birth mother abused alcohol during pregnancy, a condition they say went untreated. Prosecutor Mike Satz’s team is expected to call experts who […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Retired senior army officer shot dead by Myanmar guerrrilla

BANGKOK (AP) — A retired high-ranking officer in Myanmar’s military was shot dead at his home in the country’s biggest city, Yangon, in the latest such killing attributed to militants opposed to army rule. Ohn Thwin is believed to be the highest-ranking active or retired military officer assassinated since February last year, when the army […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Man convicted in retrial that eyed ex-star sleuth’s conduct