DEFENSE VS. PROSECUTION

Where each side stands

Published in The Herald-News, Passaic-Clifton, N.J. 1975

Here are some of the major points being presented by both the prosecution and the defense as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and John A. Artis try to overturn a 1967 verdict convicting them of murder.

 DEFENSE PROSECUTION 

 Key Witness "Lied" for Favors?

Alfred P. Bello, who testified he saw Carter and Artis come out of the Lafayette Grill armed with a shotgun and a pistol, "lied" for favors and possibly to obtain reward money.

The only evidence of a promise given to Bello, a key witness for the state, was that Lt. Vincent DeSimone of the prosecutor's staff said he "would go to the highest levels" of state government to change Bello's parole to another state.

Bello, in a tape recording with DeSimone and other police, said he feared retribution by Carter or his friends if he testified.

Special Treatment of Witnesses?

Neither Bello, nor Arthur D. Bradley, another witness, were ever prosecuted for an attempted breaking and entering on the night of the murders. Bello was also not prosecuted for the larceny of money from the Lafayette Grill.

Bradley, who testified he saw Carter and Artis in a white car before and after the shooting, also "lied" in order to get favorable treatment in several criminal charges pending against him. He could have been sentenced to a total of 80 years, but received a 3-5 year sentence for a series of larcenies, the sentences to run concurrently.

Neither Bello or Bradley were given immunity from prosecution as they requested for their testimony before the grand jury and at the trial.

Their admissions to the break and entry and the larceny of the money were obtained without police advising them of their rights and thus the matters were dropped.

In addition, Bradley was sentenced to three years in prison by an Essex County judge, one year after he testified for the state in the Carter-Artis trial. The state admitted it informed the other jurisdictions of Bradley's role as a witness in the murder case. The concurrent sentences are not unusual in such matters, police said.

 "False" Testimony Identified Carter & Artis?

The state pressured these two witnesses into identifying Carter and Artis and permitted this "false testimony" to be used for conviction. Paterson detectives testified they met Bello accidentally and he volunteered to give them a statement after he was assured of police protection. Bradley reluctantly, but voluntarily, gave police his first statements while he was in jail. He was reluctant, police said, because he feared reprisals from Carter's friends.

Tape of Bello's Interrogation "Suppressed?"

The state "suppressed" until recently a tape recording of Bello's interrogation by police in 1966, in which alleged promises of favorable treatment to the men were outlined. Superior Court Judge Samuel A. Larner ruled there were no such promises in the Oct. 11, 1966 tape between DeSimone and Bello, noting the only promise offered by DeSimone was police [protection] for the witness and an attempt to change Bello's parole supervision to another state in an effort to conceal his whereabouts. Those efforts were not successful.

Handling of the Bullet & Shotgun Shell

The state logged a .32 caliber shell and a 12 gauge shotgun shell into the Paterson property clerk's register five days after the murder. The shells, police said, were found in Carter's car.

Also, it's the defense's contention that the logging of this evidence five days after the murder showed the state wanted to find out what type of shells were used in the shooting and then say they found shells of a similar type in Carter's car.

The shells found in Carter's car at the time of the murder were logged in the police report of June 17, 1966, the day of the murders. The shells were tagged with the property number of 23887, which is in sequence with the numbers of the other evidence found that night.

In addition, police said, the logging of such evidence with the property clerk's office days after the crime is "normal" with items that can be kept locked in an officer's desk.

Carter's Alibi Witnesses "Confused" by Police?

Carter, in his autobiography "The Sixteenth Round," said the witnesses called to substantiate his alibi that he was transporting a woman and her daughter home at the time of the murder were "confused" by Lt. DeSimione into signing sworn statements. The alibi witnesses for Carter and Artis, after being questioned by DeSimone and others, gave a written statement under oath that gave the wrong date to substantiate the defendant's alibi.

 Carter Passed Lie Detector Test?

Carter wrote in his book that he passed a lie detector test administered Oct. 17, 1966. Sources familiar with the case said Carter and Artis failed the lie detector test administered Oct. 17, 1966 by Lt. John McGuire of the Elizabeth Police Department. Because the test was inadmissable as evidence it was never presented to a grand jury or revealed at the trial. [Lie test story]

 Did Shooting Victim Identify Carter?

Carter also says that William Marins, 42, who was shot once through the left eye, did not identify him in a face-to-face confrontation in a hospital on the morning of the murders. He claims that neither description Marins gave of the killers fits him.

Marins was quoted in a June 17, 1966 police report as saying one killer was six feet tall, thin, with a slight moustach. No description was given then of a second man because the witness said the first man had block his vision.

A second description by Marins said each of the men was about 5-10, with one of the men wearing a hat.

At the trial, the description of the two men given by Marins was vague.

The police said that Marins could not have seen the suspects clearly because the shootings occurred in a split second in a dimly lit bar. They also said he was not facing the door, but was seated at the bar. In addition, police theorized he was probably in a state of shock with a bullet in his head, when he was asked to idenfity Carter and give descriptions to police. [Subsequent story: Brother says Marins privately identified Carter and Artis .]

Main Page