NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
December 13, 2017
NEW HAVEN — Today, a Bridgeport jury found Attorney Wade Luckett’s client not guilty on all charges in an arson case. In July of 2016, police arrested Mr. Sherwood for allegedly starting two fires at a Shelton. Held in custody for over a year, Mr. Sherwood refused to plead guilty to a charge for which he was clearly innocent. At trial, it became clear that police had ignored or overlooked other people who had motive and opportunity to commit the arson.
Furthermore, police had recordings of Mr. Sherwood loudly proclaiming his innocence – that he had a solid alibi – the day of the actual crimes. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty as to all charges in ten minutes. Mr. Sherwood walked out of court a free man
New Haven, CT – East Windsor Man Sentenced to More Than 5 Years in Prison for Trafficking Heroin
November 21, 2017
Jhovany Valdes, 41, of East Windsor, was sentenced on November 21, 2017 by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 63 months of imprisonment, followed by four years of supervised release, for trafficking heroin.
According to court documents and statements made in court, this matter stems from a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division targeting gang violence and narcotics trafficking in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood, and related overdoses. The investigation specifically targeted criminal activity being committed by members and associates of the Orange Street Killas (OSK), which operated principally in the area of Orange, Cherry and Arbor Streets. The investigation followed a series of reports of shots fired in the area, and a homicide that was committed on Cherry Street in October 2015. The prosecution was built on court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of narcotics and physical and video surveillance, all of which revealed that OSK members acquired heroin and crack cocaine and then sold the narcotics on the streets of Hartford.
The investigation revealed that VALDES supplied an OSK member with thousands of bags of heroin for further distribution.
On February 10, 2017, investigators arrested VALDES and several of his codefendants. On that date, a search of VALDES’ East Windsor residence revealed approximately 155 grams of heroin mixed with fentanyl, most of which was packaged in approximately 2,000 bags, as well as numerous items used to process and package heroin, including a kilogram press. The search also revealed three loaded handguns, one of which had been reported stolen.
VALDES has been detained since his arrest. On August 29, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
Sixteen individuals were charged as a result of the investigation.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force and the Hartford Police Department. The Task Force includes members of the Hartford Police Department, East Hartford Police Department, Connecticut State Police and Connecticut Department of Correction. The Hartford Police Department’s Vice and Narcotics Division and Shooting Task Force have provided valuable assistance to the investigation.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 63 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
SUPREME COURT VICTORY
October 17, 2017
After an argument before the Connecticut Supreme Court, the Justices ruled in Attorney Judie Marshall’s favor. The Supreme Court reversed the lower habeas court as to a jail credit issue. The Supreme Court ordered that the habeas court grant the habeas petition and ordered the Department of Correction to credit Attorney Marshall’s client with nearly two years of jail credit.
The full opinion can be read here.
PAROLE GRANTED FOR NEW HAVEN MAN
September 21, 2017
The Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to grant early release by way of parole to a thirty-three year old New Haven man on Tuesday, September 19, 2017. He was convicted and sentenced in 1998 for manslaughter in the first degree and carrying a pistol without a permit. At the time of the offense, he was fourteen years old and the crimes he was convicted of made him ineligible for parole. He was sentenced to serve thirty years in jail.
In 2015, Connecticut passed legislation that made our client parole eligible after serving 60% of his sentence. Attorneys Amy Zurlo and Kristin Losi represented our client before the Board of Pardons and Parole. At the time of this hearing, he had already served nineteen years in the Department of Corrections’ custody. Our client was granted parole and will be released in October of this year.
New Haven Judge Grants Defense Motion to Suppress Evidence Resulting in Dismissal of Case
August 1, 2017
NEW HAVEN — After receiving a tip from two confidential informants that the Defendant was part of a group of men that were robbing drug dealers at gunpoint, the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and Hamden SWAT raided the Defendant’s home. During the search, three police officers claimed that they saw the Defendant break a window and throw a gun onto the lawn. A ssubsequent search of the address turned up ammunition, heroin, and the Defendant with a freshly cut hand.
Attorney Sam Greenburg, the Defendant’s defense attorney from Bansley Anthony Burdo, LLC, filed a motion to suppress the fruits of the search based upon a lack of probable cause contained in the warrant. The search warrant contained several deficiencies: the affiants did not adequately establish that the confidential informants were reliable and had personal knowledge of the claims they were making, it was unclear how old the information was before it was shared with police, it was unclear what relationship the Defendant had with the address, and police corroborated almost none of the information provided by the confidential informants. The police also falsely alleged that the Defendant was convicted of the same offense that they were investigating.
The prosecutors were unable to convince Judge Alander that the deficiencies in the search warrant were insignificant enough to justify deferring to the probable cause finding of the issuing judge. Based upon the suppression of the evidence, the State dropped all charges and the Judge granted Attorney Greenberg’s motion to dismiss with prejudice.
Appellate Court orders new trial based on first time in-court identification at trial
August 1, 2017
HARTFORD — The Appellate Court released the opinion today in State v. Quavon Torres (AC 39796). The Court found that an eyewitness’ first time in-court identification violated a Defendant’s due process rights as set forth in State v. Dickson, 322 Conn. 410, 141 A.3d 810 (2016).
Attorney Jennifer Smith from Bansley Anthony Burdo, LLC, represented Mr. Torres on appeal.
Full opinion can be read here.
NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
April 26, 2017
NEW BRITAIN —A New Britain jury found Sheryl Eighme NOT GUILTY of Assault 2nd Degree and Assault 3rd Degree. Attorneys Walter C. Bansley IV and Donald Meehan represented Eighme.
The complainant testified that she was beaten with a cane and a fist by Eighme, her sister. Eighme testified in her defense that she never laid a hand on her. In addition to no corroborating medical evidence, the responding paramedic testified that the complainant stated her son committed the assault.
New Britain man NOT GUILTY
March 10, 2017
NEW BRITAIN —A New Britain jury found Michael Niedzwiecki NOT GUILTY of Sexual Assault 2nd Degree. Attorneys Walter C. Bansley IV and Donald Meehan represented Niedzwiecki.
The complainant, a convicted felon, testified that she awoke in the middle of the night to Niedzwiecki having unconsented sex with her. Under cross examination by Attorney Walter C. Bansley IV, she admitted that she was a convicted felon, failed to call the police and failed to tell the police that her boyfriend, Charles Was, slept one foot away from her while this occurred.
The complainant’s boyfriend, Charles Was, a convicted felon, testified that he awoke to his girlfriend screaming, “he’s raping me” and seeing Niedzwiecki having sex with her. Through other testimony, Attorney Bansley elicited details that Was left the apartment immediately after the “rape,” hid from police, and refused to give a written statement.
New Britain police officer Martinez testified that, despite Niedzwiecki’s statement he had consensual sex in exchange for drugs, he also stated that, “he raped her.”
Attorney Bansley argued to the jury that this was consensual sex arranged between Niedzwiecki and the complainant for drugs and that, when Was awoke to seeing his girlfriend having sex with Niedzwiecki, the complainant had no choice but to allege rape.
By virtue of the jury’s acquittal, the jury discredited four different witnesses that claimed Niedzwiecki admitted to the rape.
New Haven man found NOT GUILTY on all charges
January 30, 2017
NEW HAVEN — A New Haven jury found Teshawn Stewart not guilty on the three counts the State of Connecticut charged him with: attempted sex assault first degree, attempted sex assault third degree, and unlawful restraint.
After only about 45 minutes, the foreperson announced the three straight not guilty verdicts. Stewart embraced his attorney, Walter C. Bansley IV. Attorney Alexandra Georgieva was Bansley’s co-counsel.
The State alleged that 40 year old Stewart drove to an intersection where he abducted the complainant, taking her back to a driveway where he attempted to sexually assault her. But, the jury did not seem to credit her account of events.
In addition to Bansley highlighting the 3 hour time gap from allegation to the 911 call and numerous inconsistencies in the complainant’s story, Bansley presented an alibi defense. According to several defense witnesses, Stewart was clear across town with family and friends at the time this was alleged to have occurred.
Murder case goes to jury
December 14, 2016
NEW HAVEN >>Twelve jurors Wednesday afternoon began deliberating as to whether Lamont Edwards murdered 15-year-old Jacob Craggett and wounded his older brother and their friend on a summer night in New Haven two years ago. When the jurors had not reached a verdict after 90 minutes of discussion, Superior Court Judge Brian T. Fischer sent them home. They are scheduled to resume Thursday morning.
Before receiving the case, the jury heard an hour of clashing closing arguments by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Seth Garbarsky and defense attorney Walter Bansley IV on whether the state had proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Edwards, 38, of New Haven, is charged with murder in the shooting death of Craggett as well as two counts of first-degree assault for allegedly wounding Joshua Craggett, then 22, and Timothy Jones, also then 22. In addition, Edwards faces conspiracy and weapons counts.
A fourth occupant in Jones’ car, Jerray Jackson, then 17, was not hurt when two gunmen opened fire from both sides of the vehicle. The crime happened Aug. 8, 2014 at about 9 p.m. at the corner of Vernon Street and Davenport Avenue. Police have neither identified nor charged a second gunman. Before closing arguments Wednesday, New Haven Police Detective Michael Wuchek testified that three people identified Edwards as one of the two shooters.
But under Bansley’s cross-examination, Wuchek acknowledged the state’s key witness initially said he didn’t see the gunmen and only identified Edwards as a shooter after he heard neighborhood rumors implicating him. Bansley also asked: “There was no DNA or fingerprints connecting Mr. Edwards to the shooting?” “Correct,” Wuchek answered.
After Garbarsky rested his case at 10:40 a.m., Bansley announced, “The defense does not feel a need to present any evidence and we rest.”
Garbarsky began his closing argument by saying the shooters intended target was Jones, not the Craggett brothers. “All the shots were in the front seat,” Garbarsky noted. “They wanted ‘T.J.’ dead.” But Josh Craggett, also hit, reportedly cried out, “I’m dying,” Garbarsky added.
“Jacob gets out of the car to save his brother,” Garbarsky continued. “He ends up getting shot in the back and through his chest. It ends his life.” But Garbarsky alleged Edwards is guilty of murder because “He tried to kill ‘T.J.’ and caused the death of Jacob.”
However, Bansley in his argument said the state presented “minimal evidence” of Edwards’ guilt. He called it “not credible.”
Bansley asserted, “Eyewitness unreliability is real.” Bansley said the state’s two major pieces of evidence were the key witness and a woman who told police Edwards called her the day after the shootings and made incriminating statements. Dismissing the key witness, Bansley said, “It wasn’t until the ‘feds’ dragged him in and he was under the federal government’s pressure that he said, ‘Oh, I heard rumors Edwards was the shooter and now I believe he was the shooter.’” As for the woman who said Edwards called her, Bansley noted, “She said supposedly it was him on the phone, it sounded like him on the phone. It’s sketchy.”
But Garbarsky cited that witness’ account of what Edwards allegedly said to her: “Damn, it wasn’t meant for kids, it was meant for ‘T.J.’” She also quoted him saying: “I did it. I didn’t know Josh and Jacob were in the car.” Garbarsky also brought up witness reports they heard somebody say in the aftermath of the shootings: “What is ‘Duce’ doing? Why is he wilding? Josh is in that car.” “Duce” is Edwards’ nickname. In addition, Garbarsky reminded the jury of testimony by Edwards’ wife. She said they got married at New Haven City Hall three days after the shootings and tried to drive to California the day after that. Police detained them on the Merritt Parkway in Greenwich. “Whose idea was it to get married on the first business day after the shooting?” Garbarsky asked. “‘Duce.’ Whose idea was it to go to California? ‘Duce.’”
Garbarsky said this showed Edwards’ consciousness of guilt. Garbarsky also noted Edwards returned a rental car he was using on the morning after the crime; gave somebody else’s name when police asked him who he was in Stamford; and stopped making or receiving cell phone calls a couple of days after the shootings. “Is that consistent with somebody who’s innocent?” Garbarsky asked. “Or is it consistent with somebody trying to get away with murder?”
But Bansley said there was “an innocent explanation” for the California plan: “He wanted to get his name cleared. He wasn’t going to Venezuela. He was going to California to visit his wife’s brother.”
Bansley charged: “The police investigation was a conclusion made by them, and everything after it was to support the pre-determined conclusion.”
Pointing to Edwards, Bansley said, “He’s sitting here because somebody took down the license plate of a rental car.”
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
PROUD SPONSOR OF: CT Veterans Patriot Race
November 11, 2016
Come run and support our veterans!
PROUD SPONSOR OF: CT Veterans Patriot Race
November 11, 2016
Come run and support our veterans!
HOME FOR THE BRAVE STAIR CLIMB
September 24, 2016
Always looking out for our veterans, members of the firm participated in the Home for the Brave stair climb to help raise money.
August 4, 2016
With a unanimous decision, the Board of Pardons and Parole today decided to grant our application for parole.
Attorneys Kristin Losi and Amy Zurlo appeared before the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Parole on behalf of a client who was eligible for a parole hearing under Public Act 15-84. A hearing was conducted to determine if our client should be released on parole after serving over (15) years in DOC custody. In 2002, this client plead guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree and received a sentence of (22) years incarceration. Our client will be released on November 4, 2016 and home in time this year to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family for the first time in (15) years.
MURDER CHARGE DISMISSED IN HARTFORD
May 6, 2016
By David Owens
HARTFORD — A Superior Court judge on Friday dismissed a murder charge against a man who had been jailed for months awaiting trial after prosecutors said DNA evidence in the case was not reliable.
Denzil Nurse, 44, of Hartford, had been awaiting trial in the killing of Sonia Rivera until his abrupt release two weeks ago. Prosecutors Elizabeth Tanaka and Anne Mahoney notified Nurse’s lawyers of the trouble with their evidence and moved to have Nurse released.
After two weeks of additional investigation, Tanaka told Judge Carl E. Taylor Friday that she was dropping the case against Nurse and ending the prosecution. Nurse’s lawyer, Walter C. Bansley IV, then asked the judge to dismiss the charges.
Tanaka told the judge that after Nurse’s arrest on May 8, 2014, prosecutors and police continued to investigate. During that time, they could not find additional evidence of Nurse’s guilt and discovered evidence that linked another person to Rivera’s murder, Tanaka said. The defense also presented evidence of an alibi for Nurse, she told the judge. Authorities would not say whether an arrest is imminent.
Rivera, 48, was found badly beaten on Sept. 27, 2012 in a trash-strewn lot behind 216 Washington St. in Hartford. Rivera’s killer had beaten her with a brick. She died at Hartford Hospital.
Nurse’s DNA was included in a mixture of DNA recovered from Rivera’s battered body, according to the warrant for his arrest. But the analysis of that DNA by a private consultant was not reliable, Tanaka told the judge. Investigators said the case was complicated by the fact Rivera was working as a prostitute prior to her death.
The consultant, according to Nurse’s arrest warrant, concluded that Nurse was the primary DNA donor on samples recovered from Rivera’s body and that Nurse was “the closest in time frame for intimate sexual contact with Sonia Rivera” to her death.
Most of the evidence against Nurse was circumstantial and the DNA evidence, which investigators concluded solidly linked Nurse to Rivera’s death, turned out to be another piece of circumstantial evidence. It placed Nurse with Rivera, but did not conclusively link him to her murder.
Mahoney said Tanaka, who has training in DNA analysis, spotted the problem.
“Her critical analysis of the outside expert’s opinion brought up what the problem was and it became a critical issue in the case,” Mahoney said outside court. “It wasn’t anything that the police did wrong. It wasn’t that the state lab did anything wrong. It was simply overreach by an expert that Elizabeth spotted.”
The DNA evidence and cell phone records led Hartford detectives to Nurse, whose DNA was on file because of previous felony convictions. Detectives interviewed Nurse and he admitted he’d been near the crime scene when police think Rivera was killed, but he denied having sex with her.
When detectives went to talk to Nurse again, they told him they’d found his DNA in Rivera’s body. He again insisted he was innocent of killing her, but said she’d performed a sex act on him. Police, in the warrant, said his explanations of how his DNA got into certain parts of Rivera’s body did not make sense. Nurse said Friday that he knew Rivera and had sex with her, but he didn’t provide police with all the details of their sexual encounter. “I was trying to distance myself because I didn’t do anything,” he said.
He said he was shocked when police charged him with Rivera’s murder, but maintained his innocence and was confident in his defense attorneys, Bansley and D. Wade Luckett. “I just kept my head up and kept my faith in them,” he said.
Nurse was serving a 30-month prison sentence that began in 2013 when he was arrested two years ago in the Rivera case. His bail was set at $2 million at the time and he spent the last two years at Northern Correctional Institution, the state’s super max prison in Somers.
Prosecutors had offered Nurse a plea agreement of 35 years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. He rejected the deal and was waiting for a trial when two weeks ago he was transported to the Hartford courthouse. His lawyers told him his bail was being reduced and he was going home.
“Come on man, stop playing with me,” he said he responded. “I’ve got a $2 million bond.” “He thought I was joking with him,” Bansley said.
His lawyers explained the issues brought to their attention by prosecutors and that he’d be released. A short time later he was on his way home. Nurse said he’s been staying with friends.
Man Charged In Hartford Murder Released
April 22, 2016
By David Owens
HARTFORD — A 44-year-old Hartford man who has been jailed for two years awaiting trial on a murder charge was released on a written promise to appear in court Friday.
Denzil Nurse still faces a murder charge in connection with the 2010 death of Sonia Rivera, 48, whose battered body was found in a trash-strewn lot behind 216 Washington St.
Prosecutors were circumspect in their comments before Judge Carl E. Taylor.
“There’s been some exculpatory evidence that has come to light,” prosecutor Elizabeth Tanaka told the judge. Prosecutors had notified Nurse’s lawyer, Walter C. Bansley IV, of the change in circumstances and their recommendation to release Nurse.
Outside court, Bansley said some “solid exculpatory evidence” has come to light.
Hartford police used cell phone records and DNA to link Nurse to Rivera’s death. Nurse is due back in court May 6.
Mother of teenager taken down by New Haven cops after parade files lawsuit
April 12, 2016
NEW HAVEN >> The mother of a teenage girl who was taken to the ground by police Officer Joshua Smereczynsky shortly after last year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Police Chief Dean Esserman, Smereczynsky and “unknown officers.”
The plaintiff was listed on the document as “Jane Doe, a minor, by and through her guardian, Valerie Boyd,” who is her mother. The girl has been previously identified in media reports as Teandrea Cornelius, who was 15 at the time of the incident.
Her treatment by police, which was captured on video, sparked angry demonstrations by protesters alleging police brutality and counter-protests by police officers at City Hall. Some officers were enraged when Mayor Toni Harp announced Smereczynsky had been placed on desk duty until the event could be investigated. Three days later, Esserman announced Smereczynsky had been cleared of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit, written by attorney Heather Rolfes of New Haven, alleges Cornelius’ constitutional rights were violated as she was subjected to “unreasonable search and seizure and false arrest” as well as “unreasonable force.”
The lawsuit also claims the city’s representatives, and specifically Esserman, “failed to adequately investigate the incident and to amend the policies and patterns of discrimination and excessive force of the police department and its officers.”
When reached for comment Tuesday, Esserman said, “Out of respect to the family and all involved, I have no comment.”
At the time he announced Smereczynsky had been cleared, Esserman said the officer had followed his training while handling Cornelius.
Esserman also said at that time, “the officer observed a weapon in the girl’s bag.”
But Boyd said her daughter was carrying a knife because she needed to protect herself from another girl who had been bullying her.
The lawsuit stated that Smereczynsky “did not see the handle of a knife protruding from Jane Doe’s purse prior to his forcing her to the ground.”
The document quoted the girl saying the knife was kept inside a zipped inner pocket of her purse.
The lawsuit recounts that on March 15, 2015, at about 2:42 p.m., Smereczynsky arrived at Buffalo Wild Wings, 74 Church St., in response to a call for service.
The restaurant’s manager reportedly told the officer that three young girls who were seated in the lobby waiting area had been involved in a minor skirmish inside the eatery.
According to the lawsuit, the manager pointed at Cornelius and said, “She Maced us.” When Smereczynsky ordered the girl to stand and remove her hand from her jacket pocket, he allegedly did not give her time to comply; instead he “lunged at her pocketed hand.”
The officer allegedly grabbed her left wrist, handcuffed it and then handcuffed her right wrist as they struggled. Then he “forced her outside,” and “dragged” her onto the street, where he allegedly “pinned her against the back of a parked Sport Utility Vehicle.”
At that point, the lawsuit stated, Smereczynsky “allegedly saw the handle of a knife protruding out from her purse. Defendant Smereczynsky threw her down, slamming her face onto the sidewalk curb and kneeled on her back. She did not and could not move whilst pinned face down in the snow and mud.”
At that point, the document continued, Smereczynsky retrieved a small kitchen knife from her handbag. He and two other officers then “yanked her up off of the ground” and took her to police headquarters.
According to the lawsuit, officers searched the girl and did not find Mace “or any other contraband.”
The suit alleged the girl told Smereczynsky her face hurt but he did not offer her medical attention. Boyd has said her daughter had to go to the hospital for treatment of a shoulder fracture and a facial wound.
The lawsuit alleged she “feared for her life during the arrest and continues to suffer emotional distress and anxiety as a result.” It charged her arrest “was carried out by the defendants with malice and without probable cause. Moreover, the defendants’ conduct shocks the conscience.”
As a result of the defendants’ actions, the lawsuit stated, the girl “suffered loss of liberty, property and reputation, humiliation and emotional distress.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages of an unspecified amount. “The plaintiff requests a trial by jury.”
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
New Haven man found not guilty of sexually assaulting girl
April 6, 2016
NEW HAVEN >> A Superior Court jury Wednesday took just 28 minutes to find Arnold Payne not guilty on seven charges related to two alleged sexual assaults of a young girl in 2008 and 2014.
The six jurors clearly did not believe the testimony of the girl, now a teenager. She did not report the alleged offenses until seven years after the most serious of the two incidents.
Her credibility was the central focus Wednesday when attorneys for both sides made their closing arguments. They agreed the believability of her testimony was the key factor in the case.
Payne, 57, of New Haven, a relative of the teen, had been charged with two counts of first-degree assault, fourth-degree sexual assault and four counts of risk of injury to a minor.
Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa D’Angelo asserted Payne had forced the girl to have sexual intercourse at her home in January 2008 while her mother was out of the house. Payne was also charged with luring the girl into his vehicle near a public park sometime in 2014 and making contact with her intimate body parts.
But defense attorney Walter Bansley IV (assisted by attorney Wade Luckett) reminded jurors in his closing argument that there was no forensic evidence and no corroborating witnesses to support the girl’s account.
Bansley cited state documents showing Payne was incarcerated on unrelated charges in 2014 and so he could not have committed the second assault.
“If you think she lied about 2014,” Bansley said, “then it was a lie about 2008, too.”
Bansley asserted the girl has a “toxic” relationship with her mother. He said she might have wanted to get back at her mother or garner sympathy by fabricating the sexual assault stories.
Bansley also reminded the jury the girl did not report the alleged attacks to anybody until she finally told her mother in January 2015. He noted the girl, who in the months before then had been living with another relative, made the allegations as she and the mother argued about the girl violating a curfew.
But D’Angelo told the jurors that for many sexual assault victims, “delaying disclosure is typical.” D’Angelo quoted the girl’s testimony that Payne allegedly had threatened to kill her and family members if she told them what had happened. “There is no evidence of any motive for her to lie,” D’Angelo added. “She said it was not easy for her to come in and tell what happened to her.”
D’Angelo also said the girl’s account had been “consistent” when talking to her mother and child abuse experts as well as when she testified during the trial. D’Angelo called the girl “the perfect victim.” The prosecutor noted the girl’s mother had been arrested at a pawn shop on a charge of passing a bad check at about 12:30 p.m. on the day of the alleged home assault. Payne was with her when she was arrested, knew she would be detained at the police station for at least several hours and so he went to the mother’s house and told the babysitter to leave. He reportedly told her he would take care of the girl and her younger sister.
But Bansley cited the girl’s “lack of emotion” and “flat affect” as she recounted her allegations. He said it did not appear to be a traumatic remembering “of something she actually lived through.”
He noted she testified it hurt when she was sexually assaulted in 2008 but when she was interviewed by authorities, “she didn’t talk about pain, she didn’t talk about it hurting. Now all of a sudden she wants to talk about pain and hurting?”
D’Angelo responded that a lack of emotion does not mean the girl must be lying. “People can react differently in different situations.”
Although Bansley questioned the girl’s account of the second assault because she named different parks and didn’t know the month in which it occurred, D’Angelo reminded jurors of the girl’s young age. “She knows it happened. She’s just not sure of the date.”
Bansley criticized investigators for not tracking down the girl’s friends who were with her at the park during the alleged second attack and for not finding the babysitter who reportedly had been sent away by Payne. Bansley said they might have corroborated or refuted the girl’s accounts.
Before closing arguments Wednesday, Bansley called to the witness stand New Haven police Officer Reginald McGlotten, who said that on April 2013 he responded to a report of trouble at the home shared by the girl and her mother. He said the girl told him her mother had beaten her because she was texting a boyfriend.
McGlotten testified the mother told him “that if her daughter doesn’t get her way, she makes up stories.”
Asked by Bansley whether the mother said her daughter “lied a lot,” McGlotten said, “Yes.”
The jurors began deliberating at 2:45 p.m. but the forewoman signaled at 3:13 p.m. they had reached a verdict. As Payne stood facing the jury, the forewoman said “not guilty” seven times to each listed charge. Payne nodded slightly as the first “not guilty” was announced. At the end he smiled and shook hands with his attorneys.
But he was not freed; judicial marshals cuffed him and led him back into custody. Payne has an extensive criminal record and in February 2014 received a three-year jail sentence for first-degree harassment and violating a protective order.
Although D’Angelo had no comment on the verdict, Bansley said: “From day one, Arnold has maintained his innocence. He got what he wanted: he was vindicated.”
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
New Haven man’s trial on sexual assault charges begins with alleged victim’s testimony
April 4, 2016
NEW HAVEN >> A teenager testified in Superior Court Monday that defendant Arnold Payne allegedly sexually assaulted her in 2008 and again in 2014.
The complainant was the first witness called by Assistant State’s Attorney Lisa D’Angelo. The teen went into graphic detail during questioning by D’Angelo and cross-examination by defense attorney Walter Bansley IV as nine jurors listened intently. Payne, 57, of New Haven, is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, four counts of risk of injury and fourth-degree sexual assault.
When the witness took the stand, she said she had known Payne, a relative of hers, for many years because he often visited the family home. She identified him in the courtroom. One day in January 2008, she testified, while her mother was not home, Payne told the woman who was baby-sitting her and her sister that she could leave and he would watch the kids. The witness testified Payne forced her to have sex with him. “I was trying to get up,” she said. “But he was holding my arms.” After the alleged assault, she testified, “He said if I told anyone, he would kill me” and others in her family. She said she was so scared that she kept it secret until 2015 when she finally told her mother. Approximately six years after the first incident, she testified, Payne pulled up in a vehicle while she was playing with several of her friends at a neighborhood park in New Haven. She said he called her over to his vehicle, where he touched her private parts until she got out of the car.
The girl testified she at last told her mother about the two alleged incidents “because she told me he was arrested.” Bansley objected to this disclosure in front of the jury and Superior Court Judge Brian T. Fischer sustained the objection. He told the jurors to disregard that information.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit prepared by police, Payne was convicted of first-degree sexual assault and second-degree unlawful restraint in 1993 and on first-degree sexual assault and first-degree unlawful restraint in 1985.
During cross-examination, the girl said she didn’t remember seeing any blood during the alleged sexual assault and she didn’t recall telling authorities that she hadn’t felt any pain. She testified: “It hurt.”
The witness was unsure in which park the second alleged incident occurred and when it happened. She told Bansley she walked over to Payne’s car when he asked her to and got into his car voluntarily.
Bansley is hoping Fischer will allow the jury to hear the girl’s account that she was quarreling with her mother so often that she moved out for several months. Bansley asserted to Fischer it’s also relevant to her allegations of sexual abuse that she told her mother about those allegations after she had moved back home and her mom was scolding her for violating curfew. The witness said, while the jury was absent, that her mother then started lecturing her about boys and that’s when she told her about the alleged sexual abuse.
Bansley told Fischer “this is why and when she disclosed” the allegations. But D’Angelo argued this is irrelevant.
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
New Haven man turns down offer of 36 years in prison in 2013 slaying
March 15, 2016
NEW HAVEN >> Bobby Griffin Jr., who is facing charges of murder, felony murder and other counts in the shooting death of Nathaniel Bradley three years ago, Wednesday rejected the state’s offer of a plea deal under which he would have received a 36-year prison sentence.
Griffin’s attorney, Walter Bansley IV, said after court adjourned that he will file a motion to suppress Griffin’s statement to police on the grounds of “intellectual impairment” and other factors.
During a brief appearance before Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford, Griffin, 23, of 374 Peck St., 2nd floor, replied, “That’s right, Your Honor,” when Clifford asked him whether Bansley was correct in saying Griffin wanted no part of the state’s offer. Clifford reminded Griffin that if he were convicted at a trial on the murder charge, he would face a prison sentence of up to 60 years. The defendant said he understood this.
Griffin was dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, as he has been held in lieu of $1 million bail since his arrest in October 2013.
Clifford then assigned the case to the jury list, with no specific date set for the trial. Bradley, 36, of Hamden, was shot on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard near Goffe Terrace on Oct. 14, 2013. Police described the crime as “a late evening robbery gone afoul.” He was shot twice in the back.
In a statement issued Feb. 23, 2015, in conjunction with the arrest of a co-defendant, Nathan L. Johnson, New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman said, “The robbery was alleged to have been a set-up. Bradley was to meet the three conspirators so they could buy drugs from him. They suspected Bradley would be carrying a large amount of cash and had a plan to rob him.”
Hartman alleged that Griffin was the gunman. Meanwhile, Johnson, now 26, of 370 Sherman Ave., faces charges of felony murder, attempted first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. He is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail.
A third defendant, Ebony Wright, now 28, of 75 Lodge St., faces a charge of accessory to second-degree robbery.
Bansley said in an email message he does not know what role the co-defendants might play in Griffin’s trial. “It’s our assertion that Mr. Griffin’s (police) statement was a false confession,” Bansley wrote. “During the interrogation, Mr. Griffin initially, and repeatedly, denied involvement until, after hours of interrogation, he ceded control and said he was involved.”
Bansley said that during Griffin’s session with police, Griffin was under the influence of MDMA, or Ecstasy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, its effects include impulsiveness and “significant reductions in mental abilities.”
“Mr. Griffin also suffers from intellectual impairments,” Bansley said. “Also, Mr. Griffin’s personality assessment indicates he is impressionable, adapting to his surroundings and ceding control to others, which is consistent with his role as the youngest of eight children.” Hartman could not be reached for comment.
The police warrant for Griffin’s case quoted Griffin saying in the Oct. 20, 2013, interview that he shot Bradley with a rifle during an attempted robbery. According to the warrant, police later obtained a search warrant and seized a rifle they found in Griffin’s house.
The warrant stated Griffin waived his Miranda rights and that for the first three hours of the interview he denied any involvement in the shooting. But then, the warrant said, Griffin “admitted to shooting and killing Bradley.”
The warrant quoted Griffin stating he ran up to Bradley during a marijuana transaction on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard and told Bradley to “run everything” while pointing the rifle at him. Bradley reportedly swore at him and walked back to his car. “As he (Bradley) went back to his car, Griffin fired two times and hit him in his back,” the warrant alleged.
Griffin faces charges of murder, felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery, criminal possession of a firearm and carrying a pistol without a permit.
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
Law Firm Founded By Veterans Opens New Conn. Office
January 14, 2016
MEGAN SPICER, The Connecticut Law Tribune
Over the past two years, the New Haven firm of Bansley Anthony has seen a growing number of cases coming out of the southeastern part of Connecticut. And so it should come as no surprise that the firm, which was founded by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran in the 1990s, has opened a new office just down the road from the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. After all, Bansley Anthony focuses, in part, on military law.
Partner Keith Anthony, a Marine Corps veteran, is heading the office, which opened Jan. 1. For now, the office is staffed by Anthony and a younger lawyer from the New Haven office. The firm has a third office in Danielson.
“We just kept getting more and more cases,” said Anthony, who served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and still belongs to the Marine Corps Reserves. The firm’s founder, Walter Bansley III, also served as a JAG in the 20 years he was an active-duty Marine.
In addition to the more routine personal injury, criminal defense and family law cases, the firm has been handling a growing number of military law cases—known as Uniform Code of Military Justice cases—from southeastern Connecticut. Several cases, Anthony added, have come out of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy based in New London, though he said he could not speak about any specifics.
Groton, Anthony said, has a “very strong military community,” as active duty and retired military members live in the area. The increase of cases, Anthony believes, comes from the connections made by the senior Bansley who remains involved in the military community. (Bansley’s son, Walter Bansley IV, also a Marine Corps veteran, is a partner in the firm as well.)
Anthony added that there is a need for attorneys and firms who cater to those in the military. He noted that the state has pockets of military activity, including the Marine Corps Reserve centers in New Haven and Plainville and an Army Reserve Center in Middletown. The military has a unique justice system, and Anthony said he has been called to assist with family law cases that involve a spouse who is active duty. Just within the family law realm, there are laws governing military pensions and survivor benefits that are specific to active military personnel or veterans.
“We have a familiarity with these types of clients,” Anthony said. “You want to do right by these people. It’s not one’s fault that there are certain differences in the law or certain things [other attorneys] don’t know about when representing active duty, reservists or a veteran. If you don’t know about the different laws, you can do a disservice to that client.”
On the criminal side of the law, if an active duty or reservist gets in trouble with the law, they will not only have to appear in state courts but also before the military courts. “If you don’t know how those [two courts] interact with one another, [a lawyer] can end up giving some advice that may not be as helpful to the reservist because he is going to get hit on both side and there are ways to minimize the damage,” Anthony said.
Anthony also assists veterans in matters pertaining to the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, such as those looking to receive disability benefits from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or any other injury that resulted from their active duty. Anthony helps veterans complete the paperwork and is present during VA hearings.
He also works with a master sergeant who is involved with the Wounded Warrior Project. Occasionally, Anthony will be called on to assist a wounded Marine Corps veteran from Connecticut.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to do this,” Anthony said of opening the new office. “It’s a good thing to be able to expand a little bit and provide quality service [to military personnel].”
Veteran law firm opens office in Groton
January 4, 2016
Former active duty Marines just opened a Groton, Connecticut law office at 317 Long Hill Road to serve the needs of veterans and the Southeastern community of Connecticut. This Veteran law firm has a long lineage of past and current military service. The firm was founded by Walter Bansley III, a former Marine ground office and Judge Advocate. His son, Walter Bansley IV, a former Marine Captain, is now managing partner of the firm. Another partner in the firm, Keith Anthony, is spearheading the opening of the Groton firm. Keith is a former Marine Captain and Judge Advocate and continues to drill in the reserves. The firm concentrates its legal practice in the areas of personal injury, family law, criminal defense, UCMJ defense, real estate, business services and all military specific legal issues. The office is conveniently located on Long Hill Road, off of 95, in close proximity to the Sub Base, doctors and chiropractors offices and other local businesses. You can learn more about the firm at www.bansleylaw.com or call 860-326-5100.
Judge Suppresses All Evidence
December 8, 2015
Another victory for Bansley | Anthony today! Police unlawfully seized our client’s cell site location information without a warrant, which allowed them to track our client’s movements in real-time, and also allowed them to determine his location over a four month period. The police tracked our client from New Haven to Wallingford and apprehended his co-defendant, who implicated our client in a series of burglaries. Last Wednesday, Attorney Jennifer Smith argued in favor of the suppression of this evidence, including the statements and testimony of the co-defendant. A New Haven trial court judge granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the evidence was obtained in violation of our client’s Fourth Amendment rights.
This evidence has been suppressed in all thirteen cases that were pending against our client.
Willimantic man acquitted in sexual assault case
November 2, 2015
Attorneys Walt Bansley and Wade “Danielson” Luckett successfully secured not guilty verdicts on all 7 seven sexual assault charges ranging from Sexual Assault 1st Degree to Risk of Injury. The jury deliberated for two days before announcing their verdict. The attorneys and client walked out of the courthouse together.
By John Penney The Bulletin
Posted Nov. 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM
DANIELSON — A Willimantic man accused of sexually assaulting a family member was acquitted of all charges this week, court officials said.
Eric Waldron, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was accused in 2013 by his daughter of sexually assaulting her when she was 7 and 9 years old, police said.
On Monday, a jury in Danielson Superior Court found Waldron not guilty of all charges in the case, including two counts of first-degree sexual assault, fourth-degree sexual assault and three counts illegal sexual contact, according to the court clerk’s office. Walter C. Bansley IV, Waldron’s lawyer, said his client consistently denied the charges lodged against him.
“The complainant daughter in the matter testified inconsistently about the date and time of the allegations. She also testified about her numerous psychological issues.” Bansley said, in an email. “Additionally, her testimony revealed that her disclosure was at least six years after the alleged incident. There were no witnesses or physical evidence to corroborate the complainant’s allegations. My client gave two statements to police wherein he continually denied the allegations.”
Bansley said Waldron’s trial began Oct. 26 and the jury began deliberating on Oct. 30. Jurors reached a verdict at 5 p.m. Monday, he said. The state’s judicial website shows no other pending charges against Waldron.
“(Waldron) is free,” Bansley said. “And is happy and excited to resume his normal life with his family and work.”
Willimantic police arrested Waldron on Dec. 31, 2013, after an investigation that began months earlier.
According to an arrest warrant, the girl, now a teenager, said during a group therapy session she was attending that her father had raped her. The girl said her father had abused her on other occasions but she couldn’t remember the details, police said.
Waldron denied to police that he had done anything improper toward his daughter.
“I have never hurt or abused my daughter ever!!” he wrote in a statement to police. “When they did visit we would do family activities and or play outside a lot. The house was a very thin-walled house so you could hear everything no matter where you were in the house.”
Waldron told police that a man the girl’s mother dated had been rumored to have molested children and perhaps his daughter had confused their identities.
“I love my children very much and would protect them with my life,” Waldron wrote.
Hamden man gets 7 ½ years in shooting that left victim paralyzed
November 2, 2015
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
November 6, 2015
NEW HAVEN >> A conspirator in the robbery that left a Hamden man permanently paralyzed from gunfire has been sentenced to serve 7½ years in prison.
Marquis Winfrey, 25, of 28 Fawn Ridge Road, Hamden, apologized in court for his role in the crime. The victim, John Belcher Jr., sent a letter to be read in court about his ongoing physical suffering. Belcher was shot in the left chest as he stood in the driveway of his Elliot Drive home at about 1 a.m. on July 2, 2010. The bullet severed his spinal cord. He is paralyzed from the neck down. The man who police and prosecutors believe was the shooter, Kevin Blackman, 25, of 2671 Dixwell Ave, Hamden, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison last July. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery and criminal possession of a firearm.
Winfrey had pleaded guilty to a reduced single charge of conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery in exchange for a shorter sentence than he likely would have received if he had gone to trial and been convicted. During Winfrey’s sentencing hearing, presided over by Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford, Belcher’s statement was read by state Victim Services Advocate Beata Bagi.
“I did want you to know that five years later I am still fighting every day to overcome the injuries you’ve caused me,” Belcher wrote. “Because of the trauma my body experienced, two weeks ago I had to undergo surgery where I suffered multiple complications that led to my heart stopping for several minutes.” e added, “This led to another emergency surgery that resulted in a tracheotomy tube being placed in my neck and making me dependent on a breathing machine, which I am once again fighting to get off of.” My entire life since that day has been a constant and daily battle,” Belcher wrote. “Although I am glad that justice is being served, I am saddened that I have to continue to fight but you will be able to retain some independence and still have a chance to live a normal life.”
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr. said Winfrey received an appropriate sentence. “Blackman was the shooter. Our theory is Blackman and Winfrey approached the house. Blackman had the gun and fired it.”
Doyle also noted Winfrey had cooperated with police in the case.
When Clifford gave Winfrey a chance to speak, Winfrey noted he saw Belcher’s father, John Belcher Sr., in the courtroom. “I want his father and his (father’s) son to know that I am sorry for everything that happened. He was a good person. I knew him growing up. I want you to know that I did conspire to rob him but I did not pull the trigger. I never intended that to happen. I made a mistake and I am going to pay for my actions.”
Winfrey’s attorney, Walter Bansley IV, noted in court that when Winfrey was 13, he saw his father suffer a heart attack and accompanied him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Bansley said Winfrey then began suffering from depression, which was exacerbated after he graduated from high school when his cousin, aunt, maternal grandmother and best friend died within a short period.
Bansley said Winfrey still was able to complete semesters at three community colleges. He studied criminal justice.
“Marquis is a good kid, raised by good parents,” Bansley told Clifford. “He takes full responsibility for his actions and will learn. Without hesitation, Marquis will emerge from his incarceration and become a productive member of society.”
Clifford imposed a 15-year sentence, to be suspended after Winfrey serves 7½ years. He will then face three years of probation.
Conspiracy and attempted robbery charges are still pending against Marquis Harper and Anthony Carmichael in connection with the case.
Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.
Firm volunteers at the local soup kitchen
September 23, 2015
Bansley | Anthony’s dedication and support of the community is displayed this month with volunteering at the local New Haven soup kitchen.
Connecticut court orders new trial
September 10, 2015
A Connecticut judge granted a Summary Judgment motion and Habeas Petition resulting in a new trial on a kidnapping charge. Attorney Wade Luckett successfully argued that, because the jury did not have a proper jury instruction relating to the charges at trial, the defendant was entitled to a new trial. The judge concluded, “The lack of a Salamon instruction clearly contributed to the Petitioner’s kidnapping conviction. Consequently, and based upon all of the foregoing, the court concludes that a Salamon instruction was warranted and that the absence of such an instruction was no harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Death Penalty in CT Abolished – Lawyer Glad to Be Out of a Job
August 14, 2015
Opinion Editorial, by Walter C. Bansley III
Thursday was a great day for the state of Connecticut, and I applaud the courageous decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court to end the death penalty. I consider this decision to be a victory for the people of Connecticut because I personally believe that the state should not be in the business of killing its citizens under any circumstances.
With this said, my heart goes out to the victims, since I am quite sure that they are unhappy with this decision.
I spent nearly 40 years devoted to the practice of criminal law. I spent 20 years on active duty with the Marine Corps. My first nine years were served as an infantry officer, and after going to law school at night, I spent 11 years as a Marine judge advocate, where my time was split evenly between prosecution and defense.
I have advocated against the death penalty since the beginning of my career. Anyone who knows me and/or my background would be hard-pressed to refer to me as a liberal. Although I have strong feelings that it should not be the function of the government to kill its citizens under any circumstance, my primary opposition to the death penalty is economic.
My clients and I are very grateful to the untiring efforts of the public defenders’ office in opposing the death penalty in every forum. Susan O. Storey, Brian S. Carlow, Mark Rademacher and many other public defenders have been incredibly aggressive and diligent in opposing the death penalty. They are truly unsung heroes who receive very little credit for their unwavering dedication to the indigent citizens of the state. In fact, they normally draw the ire of the public.
A death penalty case results in tens of millions of dollars being unnecessarily expended in situations where life in prison without the possibility of parole is more than sufficient punishment. It is not in dispute that it is substantially cheaper to house someone in a 6-by-9 cell for the rest of his life than it is for the state to kill him. This Supreme Court ruling is clearly a fiscal victory for the state and a loss to lawyers and the experts who are retained in death penalty cases.
It is a unique situation where lawyers who make a living defending death penalty cases have so aggressively advocated against it for decades. In the Cheshire cases, the defense offered to plead their respective clients guilty within weeks of their arrests for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. If these offers had been accepted, the state would have saved literally millions and millions of dollars. We would not have heard about either defendant over the past nine years, and justice would have been amply served by their lifetime of imprisonment under very harsh conditions.
Also, those damn lawyers would not have made any money!
Walter C. Bansley III is counsel for Joshua Komisarjevsky and Eduardo Santiago, both formerly on death row.
Copyright © 2015, Hartford Courant
Firm Runs Craft Brew Race 5k
August 1, 2015
Nine members of Bansley | Anthony ran in New Haven’s Craft Brew Race 5k.
New Haven Jury Finds Man NOT GUILTY of Assault on an Officer
July 31, 2015
After 30 minutes of deliberation, a New Haven jury declared David Britto Not Guilty of Assault on an Officer. The jury credited Attorney Wade Luckett’s argument casting doubt on the prosecution’s case when they failed to produce a surveillance tape that was operational and recording at the time of the incident.
Burglary Charges Dismissed Against New Haven Man
July 1, 2015
Attorney Walter C. Bansley IV successfully argued a dismissal of all charges to a New Haven judge today. The State did not object to the dismissal based upon an inadequate investigation by police.
Michael Ross, 45, was charged in connection with burglaries at Biltmore Cleaners and the Fancy Nails salon, both at 186 Amity Road, police Sgt. Frank Cappiello said in a press release.
Cappiello said Ross is accused of breaking the glass front doors of both businesses and stealing items inside, including a cash register, electronics, cash and nail care products.
Woodbridge police reportedly identified Ross as the suspect with help from New Haven and North Haven police.
Ross, who lives on Hilltop Road in New Haven, was arrested March 11, 2015 and charged with two counts of second-degree burglary and two counts of third-degree larceny. He was initially detained in lieu of $10,000 bail.
Getaway Driver Senteced To 15 Years
June 5, 2015
Willie Breyette, the New Britain man accused of being an accomplice in the 2012 killing of a 70-year-old Meriden convenience store owner, agreed to a plea deal Wednesday in New Haven court that will likely result in a prison sentence of at least 15 years, according to Breyette’s attorney.
During the early morning hours of June 27, 2012, Breyette drove Frankie Resto to EZ Mart at 271 E. Main St., according to police. The store is now known as Ghazal Mart. Police said Resto, a Meriden resident, entered the store, ordered a customer to the ground at gunpoint and demanded money from Ibrahim Ghazal, owner of the store. After Ghazal turned over the cash, Resto shot him in the chest and fled.
In March 2014, Resto was sentenced to 53 years in prison after pleading guilty to murder and first-degree robbery. Resto was 38-years-old when he was sentenced.
For his alleged part in the murder, Breyette was charged with first-degree accessory to a robbery with a deadly weapon, first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon and second-degree hindering prosecution. He has been held since his arrest in June 2012. When Breyette, 25 at the time of his arrest, elected to go to trial last year, the state filed an additional charge against him — murder during the commission of a felony, his attorney, Walter C. Bansley said.
Jack Doyle, a senior assistant state’s attorney who has handled the case alongside his colleague, Seth Garbarsky, confirmed Thursday that the charge was added because of Breyette’s alleged role in Ghazal’s murder.
On Wednesday, Breyette pleaded guilty to first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon. All other charges will be dropped when Breyette is sentenced in New Haven court on June 5. Breyette and the state agreed to a sentence of 20 years, suspended after 15 years and followed by three years probation, according to Bansley. “Ultimately, the plea deal was in both Willie and the state’s best interests,” he said.
Doyle confirmed the length of the agreed upon sentence. The plea deal was reached “based on the strengths and weaknesses of the case,” he said. “I thought this was an appropriate disposition.” A compromise was made because “it’s difficult to try and prove what (Breyette) knew,” Doyle said. “There’s no doubt he knew about the murder afterwards. He’s still responsible.”
When he was arraigned, Resto told the court Breyette had no part in the murder. “Willie has always maintained that the only reason he was there that evening was the coercion of Resto, the shooter,” Bansley said. “The evening of the shooting, Resto was high on drugs and looking to score more drugs. Resto threatened Willie to take him to buy drugs. When Willie wanted to go home, Resto held a gun to him and threatened him. When Resto went into the store, Willie had no idea that he was going to rob or shoot the victim. In Resto’s statement to police, and when Resto was originally arraigned, he repeatedly said that Willie had nothing to do with the shooting.”
Family members of Ghazal were present and addressed the court during Breyette’s appearance Wednesday, Doyle said. Regarding the plea deal, Doyle said, family members understood “the negotiating process and the relative strengths and weaknesses” of the case, especially since Breyette’s proposed sentence “is pretty significant punishment.”
Garbarsky, a senior assistant state’s attorney, said he met with family members for several hours last week to talk about the case.
“They had the right under the constitution to object or support any plea bargain,” he said. “There were certainly different opinions as to what the appropriate disposition would be, as you can imagine. This was an absolutely tragic, senseless killing. It was tough.” Meriden Police should be commended for their thorough investigation, especially Det. Dean Benoit, who handled the case, Garbarsky said.
Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence Granted
May 6, 2015
Attorney Meehan argued a motion to correct an illegal sentence on behalf of one such juvenile in front of the Honorable Judge Devlin in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Subsequently, the court found in favor of Attorney Meehan’s argument and granted the request for a new sentencing hearing. This was the first motion to correct an illegal sentence that was granted in the state of Connecticut on these grounds. Attorneys Donald Meehan and Kristin Losi have been closely following the ever changing legal landscape regarding juvenile resentencing. The national case law indicates that sentencing a person, who was a juvenile at the time his/her crime was committed, to a lifetime in prison without the opportunity for release and without giving due mitigation to their youth, should be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Murder charge abandoned against former cab driver
Tuesday, March 3, 2015 11:20 am
By Alex Wood Journal Inquirer
A murder charge has been dismissed against a former Manchester cab driver who spent more than 11 months in jail awaiting trial on accusations that he participated in a fatal shooting over Hartford drug turf more than a decade ago.
Prosecutors last week “nolled,” or dropped, the murder charge against Ismael “Omi” Gomez, 29, who formerly lived on Eldridge Street in Manchester, Hartford Superior Court records show. In response to a defense motion, Judge Julia DiCocco Dewey then dismissed the case.
Those developments came after the selection of 11 of the 12 regular jurors needed for Gomez’s trial, which was going forward at this time because of a speedy-trial motion filed by Gomez’s lead lawyer, Walter C. Bansley IV of New Haven.
New Britain man pleads guilty to murder
January 22, 2015
By Lisa Backus
NEW BRITAIN — After two false starts, Juan Rivera suddenly changed his plea to guilty of a murder charge in the death of a former Los Solidos gang leader — just minutes before his trial was to begin Thursday.
Rivera, 24, had been charged with two others in 2012 with the killing of former Los Solidos leader John “Mikey” Martinez, who was shot to death in October 2011, a week after he opted out of the gang. Victor “Little Vic” Gonzalez, 27, and Jimmy Rosado, 23, were also charged in the killing. Both are also seeking trials. After an hour-long delay before the trial was about to start, court officials announced Rivera had decided to plead guilty to murder in exchange for a 38-year prison sentence.
Rivera was escorted into a different courtroom to change his plea. Seconds later, Rivera was ushered out of the courtroom after he told New Britain Superior Court Judge Arthur Hadden, “I would like to take a day to think about it” when asked if he was ready to change his plea to guilty. “Mr. Rivera, if you are not here to dispose of this case, it will proceed to trial,” Hadden said.
A few minutes later, Rivera returned flanked by his attorneys, Walter Bansley III and Keith Anthony, but stopped the proceedings again when he answered “no” to the question of whether or not he had enough time to speak to his attorneys about pleading guilty.
Rivera returned for a third and final time minutes later with Bansley explaining that English was not his client’s first language.
Senior State’s Attorney John H. Malone outlined the facts of the case, which included that Rivera’s DNA was found on the gun used to shoot Martinez as he sat in a parked car on Smith Street. The weapon was left behind at the scene.
Court documents detail accounts from several witnesses who told police Rivera had been looking to kill Martinez since 2007 when Martinez fatally shot his younger brother, Jose (known as “Pupi”), during an exchange of gunfire in the Mount Pleasant housing area. Martinez was 17 at the time.
At least two witnesses told investigators they believe Rivera feared retaliating for his brother’s death as long as Martinez was an active gang member. Martinez, who witnesses called a “vice-president” of the New Britain Los Solidos, had opted out of the gang in late September 2011 following a tiff with leader David Lays the week before he was killed, the warrant said. Lays was shot and killed hours after Rivera was arraigned on the murder charge in March of 2012.
Rivera told Hadden he agreed “in general” with the facts as presented by Malone. “They had a problem for four years; there was bad blood between the two,” Malone said of the relationship between Martinez and Rivera. His attorneys retained the right to argue for less time in prison during his sentencing on March 24.
NOT GUILTY Sex Assault Verdicts
December 16, 2014
Walter C. Bansley IV and Jennifer Smith secured NOT GUILTY verdicts for their client before a Hartford jury. The State had charged the client with two counts of Sexual Assault 1st Degree. Despite testimony from the female complaint that the client forcibly raped her, the jury did not find her story credible and returned not guilty verdicts on the Sexual Assault 1st Degree counts.
U.S. Supreme Court Admission
October 7, 2014
On October 7, Walter C. Bansley III, Walter C. Bansley IV, Keith Anthony, and Shannon Bansley where admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar in Washington D.C.
Robbery 1st Degree charges DISMISSED
October 22, 2014
After selecting a full jury in Danielson Superior Court, and on the day of commencement of evidence, Attorneys Walter C. Bansley IV and Kristin Losi secured a full dismissal of Robbery 1st Degree and related charges. After serving ten months in pre-trial confinement, their client walked out of court with them.
CLIENT REMOVED FROM SEX OFFENDER REGSITERY
After years on “the list,” Attorney Jennifer Smith successfully argued complete removal of a client’s name from the sex offender registry list.
NOT GUILTY murder verdict
September 23, 2014
Attorneys Walter C. Bansley IV and Kristin Losi’s client received a NOT GUILTY of murder verdict in a New Haven eyewitness identification case.
Court reverses kidnapping conviction and orders a new trial
September 17, 2014
Attorney Jennifer Smith successfully argued to the court during the course of a habeas trial that, because of the trial court’s failure to properly instruct the jury, the client was entitled to a new trial. The habeas court agreed, reversed the kidnapping conviction, and ordered a new trial.
Court reverses kidnapping conviction and orders a new trial
April 11, 2014
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
Prosecutors nolled a manslaughter charge against John Denby Friday, conceding there isn’t enough evidence to take him to trial for the 2007 shooting death of Jeremiah Johnson near East Rock Park. But as part of the nolle arrangement, Denby, 29, of New Haven, pleaded guilty Friday to two counts of narcotics sales and violating a conditional discharge. Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford imposed the sentence that had been hammered out by State’s Attorney Michael Dearington and defense attorney Walter Bansley IV: 20 years, suspended after Denby serves 10, with probation of three years.
Bansley said because Denby has been incarcerated on narcotics charges while awaiting trial and hopes to be granted parole when he has served five of the 10 years; he could be released 2½ years from now.
Dearington told Clifford, “The state believes Mr. (Zackery Cody) Franklin committed the murder.” Dearington said he intends to pursue his prosecution of Franklin on this homicide, even though Franklin last May received a 65-year prison term for murdering Jean-Claude James on Howard Avenue in July 2011.
Dearington said he also plans to prosecute Franklin for allegedly killing Ryan Barnaby in 2011 in Edgewood Park.
But as for Denby, Dearington said, “The only evidence was him allegedly telling somebody he was responsible for the murder.”
Thus, Dearington added, “The state is unable to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt. We’ll enter a nolle on manslaughter.”
Dearington noted the details of the shooting of Johnson, who was 32. He was killed Dec. 15, 2007, on Farnum Drive by East Rock Park near the New Haven/Hamden line.
“His body was found by a passing motorist,” Dearington said. “He had been shot in the head, neck and back.”
Dearington told Clifford that Johnson’s father, who lives in New York and was not in the courtroom Friday, was disappointed about the nolle. “But he understands the circumstances, and he defers to the state.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Mary SanAngelo, who handled the narcotics counts, said the two violations to which Denby pleaded guilty were captured on police surveillance videotape in 2010 on Rosette Street. The drug involved was crack cocaine.
“He ran a very lucrative business,” she said of Denby.
She said the conditional discharge violation occurred when he was released from prison in December 2008 but then engaged in narcotics sales. Denby had no comment when given an opportunity to speak in the courtroom. Clifford called it “a reasonable disposition.” Denby’s cousin, Isis Hargrove, said after court adjourned, “We rejoice that John’s attorney did an excellent job. We prayed for a good outcome and God delivered.”
Bansley said, “While John’s sympathies go out to Jeremiah Johnson’s family, John has always denied any involvement in Johnson’s death.”
Bansley noted Denby originally was charged with murder and wanted to go forward with a probable cause hearing. Prosecutors at that point substituted the manslaughter charge, avoiding the hearing.
Bansley said when he filed a speedy motion trial on Denby’s behalf last week, prosecutors decided to go for a narcotics sentence and nolle the manslaughter charge.
New Haven man goes free after murder case dismissed
March 31, 2014
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
A Superior Court judge has dismissed felony murder and robbery charges against Gregory McLaurin in the shooting death of Lonnie Starr because a witness’ identification of McLaurin was ruled unreliable.
After hearing testimony by the witness and considering defense attorney Walter Bansley III’s motion to suppress the witness’ identification of McLaurin as carrying a shotgun at the crime scene, Judge Elpedio N. Vitale recently granted the motion.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Gene Calistro Jr. then nolled the charges of felony murder, first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. This prompted Bansley to move to have the charges dismissed, which Vitale granted. McLaurin, now 18, of 47 Level St., had no other charges pending against him. He walked out of court a free man.
McLaurin was the second defendant to have felony murder and other charges dismissed in the homicide, which occurred Jan. 23, 2013, in front of the key witness’ residence on Level Street Last October, Malik Burruss, also 18, had his charges dismissed by Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Clifford after Calistro requested the dismissal.
Calistro acknowledged the same key witness who identified McLaurin on the scene was not reliable in her identification of Burruss as firing a revolver into Starr’s car. When reached for comment Monday on the McLaurin case, Calistro said, “Unfortunately, there was no alternative but to enter a nolle, based on a lack of evidence. That’s all we had, that single I.D. witness.”
Calistro said when Burruss’ charges were dismissed, it appeared the key witness had a better voice recognition of McLaurin, so charges against him remained in place. According to state authorities, the key witness asked Starr, 29, to come to her house so she could buy drugs from him. Starr arrived with a passenger in his car. The witness told police that during the drug transaction, two men appeared: one with a revolver and one with a shotgun. When Starr tried to leave, the witness recounted, the man with the revolver fired. The passenger in Starr’s car said both perpetrators wore masks. He said the shooting happened so quickly he did not get a good look at them.
In his motion to suppress the identification, Bansley noted the female witness, during extensive questioning by police, gave conflicting descriptions of the gunmen.
The witness said she knew the two men only “by their voices,” Bansley added. Bansley also pointed out she agreed with the passenger that the men had their faces covered with hoodies, hats and masks. She said their faces were covered to their noses.
During the police interview of that witness, Bansley noted, she “questioned her own ability to recall the details of the shooting she stated she witnessed.” Bansley quoted her telling police: “I’ve smoked too much (marijuana),” that at the time of the shooting she was “smoking a bowl of weed” and her eyesight and memory are poor.
In his motion, Bansley said the witness’ identification of McLaurin possessing the shotgun “is the only information connecting the defendant to the crimes for which he has been charged. There are no other witnesses, no scientific or forensic evidence implicating the defendant.” McLaurin was arrested two days after the witness made her statement implicating him. He had been held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Bansley said: “We feel terribly for the family, as they have no closure and in our opinion the perpetrators of this crime are still at large.”
Jury finds man NOT GUILTY of Robbery 1st Degree
November 27, 2013
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
In a verdict that left the defense attorney and others in the courtroom scratching their heads in wonder, 12 jurors Wednesday found Tyrick Warren not guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery — but could not reach a decision on charges of felony murder and attempted first-degree robbery. Superior Court Judge Thomas V. O’Keefe Jr. then declared a mistrial on those two counts. Although O’Keefe scheduled a January pretrial hearing on the two outstanding counts, defense attorney Walter Bansley III said afterward he plans to file a motion to dismiss both remaining charges.
Police had charged Warren with participated in trying to rob John Henry Cates, a 57-year-old homeless man, on Jan. 3, 2010, on Huntington Street. Warren’s alleged accomplice, and the supposed shooter, was Rajoun Julious, but he had his charges dismissed last year for lack of evidence.
Asked about the verdict after adjournment Wednesday afteroon, Bansley noted, “Felony murder derives from an agreement to commit a criminal act. You don’t get to felony murder unless you find there’s an agreement. So in my opinion, he should also have been found not guilty of felony murder.”
While saying he has “great faith in the jury system” and praised the jurors for their diligence, Bansley said their verdict was “inconsistent.”
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Sibley Sr., who prosecuted the case, could not be reached for comment.
Warren, 20, showed no emotion when the verdict was read. He had testified he was having trouble following what was happening in the courtroom. A forensic psychologist testified Warren has an IQ of just 69, which is borderline mentally retarded. Warren was sent back to jail after the verdict was announced. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
His mother, Jacqueline Harris, said, “It should have been dismissed because of lack of evidence.” She said she has faith that this will happen eventually. A member of the Cates family was reached by phone Wednesday after the verdict but declined to comment.
The jurors began their deliberations late Monday afternoon. On Wednesday, shortly before noon, the jury foreman sent a note to O’Keefe reporting they were at an impasse on all three counts. O’Keefe then read them “the Chip Smith charge,” an instruction encouraging those who disagree with the majority to re-examine their views in an effort to reach a unanimous verdict.
The jurors returned to their deliberations, took a lunch break and sent out a note at about 3:45 p.m., reporting they had reached a verdict on one of the counts but not the other two. During their deliberations Tuesday, the jurors had asked to re-hear Warren’s 15-minute taped statement to police detectives in which he said he saw Julious shoot Cates as they “tussled” over the gun. Warren told the detectives he had walked away from Julious when Julious announced he intended to rob Cates.
But in his court testimony, Warren said he was not there at all. He said he had told police “what they wanted to hear” because had promised him he could go home and see his daughter if he did so. The detectives denied telling him this.
During cross-examination, Sibley asked Warren how he possibly could have known the specific details of the crime he provided in his statement to the detectives. Warren replied he based it on street rumors.
Jury finds New Haven man NOT GUILTY of all charges
June 26, 2013
After a few hours of deliberation, a New Haven jury returned not guilty verdicts on all counts, including Sale of a Controlled Substance and Sale of a Controlled Substance (crack cocaine) with 1500′ of a school.
A confidential informant testified that the defendant sold him crack cocaine. The prosecutor also presented a corroborating video recording that secretly recorded the transaction. Police officers testified that they had the confidential informant in sight the entire time and stopped the defendant’s car shortly after the drug transaction.
The defense, however, highlighted that the confidential informant entered the back seat of the car and never actually saw a direct view of the defendant’s face, casting doubt on his in court identification. Moreover, because the confidential informant entered the back seat first, the video only captured the side of the defendant’s face.
The defense rebutted the police officer’s testimony by presenting the “look alike” brother of the defendant that carried a felony record, including drug sales.
Man pleads guilty and will serve 30 years on murder charges
By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN >> Luis Roman, charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend, Susan Mazzarella of Wallingford, has agreed to accept a plea deal for a 30-year prison sentence.
Defense attorney Walter Bansley IV stated in an email that Roman, 43, recently agreed to the plea offer from Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr. after the first day of jury selection. Bansley said he will not have the option of arguing for a shorter prison term when Roman is sentenced Nov. 7 in Superior Court. “Luis never denied being responsible for his girlfriend’s death,” Bansley said. “Luis has always maintained that it was an accident. He pled to avoid a trial when he was ultimately the one responsible for her death and to avoid putting her son through the trial.”
The police warrant affidavit, which contained Roman’s confession to killing Mazzarella, 54, on July 4, 2011, quoted him saying, “I’m not going to lie, I hit her hard.” Roman told Wallingford police detectives they were arguing at her condominium at 19 Danny’s Way and she had threatened to “put him back in jail.” Roman had previously been arrested twice in June 2010 on third-degree assault charges for attacking Mazzarella. He was convicted but released from prison in June 2011. Roman told police that when she threatened to get him sent back to prison on that night in July 2011, “She had me like a puppet on a string.” According to the warrant, Roman said after he hit Mazzarella, she was struggling to breathe but he was trying to “help” her by bringing her into the bedroom. “Roman stated that he later placed a towel over Susan’s head because her face was all bruised up and he figured that she was going to die,” said the warrant, written by Wallingford police Detective Sean Houlihan. When one of the detectives doing the interview asked Roman if he had put his hands on Mazzarella’s neck, Roman reportedly replied, “I think I did grab her neck.” “Roman stated that he was too scared to dial 911 and that he went downstairs and slept on the living room couch until the following morning,” according to the warrant. Roman then fled to Florida. Police arrested him two weeks after the slaying as he got off a bus in New Haven that was returning from Florida. Then State Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II determined Mazzarella died of traumatic asphyxia caused by strangulation.
Call Randall Beach at 203-789-5766.
Hamden man not not rob cab driver
October 11, 2012
During a hearing in Meriden Superior Court today, a judge agreed with Attorney Walter C. Bansley IV and found that the prosecutor did not prove, by the preponderance of the evidence, that Hopes robbed a Metro Taxi driver.
In the original New Haven Register article, Sgt Anthony Diaz said that on August 19, 2011, Hamden Police Officers Timothy Brown and William May saw a silver Lexus going west on Goodrich Steet at a high rate of speed without its headlights at about 1:50 a.m., and they activated their cruiser’s overhead lights and siren to try to stop the Lexus, but it accelerated.
The vehicle pulled over abruptly on Bassett Street in New Haven, Diaz said.
As officers approached the vehicle, an orange and white Metro Taxi quickly pulled in front of the stopped motor vehicle and the driver exited the taxi and ran towards the officers, Diaz said. Police learned that the men in the Lexus allegedly assaulted the cab driver, attempted to rob his money, and took his cellular phone and threw it to the ground before fleeing in Lexus on Goodrich Street. Officers observed significant swelling on the side of the driver’s face, but he refused medical treatment and said he was going home to put ice on his face, Diaz said.
At trial, the cab driver testified inconsistently with the police officer. Moreover, other testimony revealed that Hopes was recently exiting a bar and just got in his own car to leave. The judge declared that it was possible that he was misidentified. Hopes walked out of the courtroom.