Al Bello, who twice testified that he saw Carter leave the murder scene carrying guns, is an admitted burglar and thief, which calls his credibility into question. Before Carter's second trial, the Prosecutor's Office decided that Bello must pass a lie detector test or he would not be called as a witness.
The cautious prosecutors actually had Bello take two lie detector tests, which were administered by two top polygraph operators, Professor Leonard Harrelson of Chicago, and Richard Arther of New York City. Both concluded that Bello was telling the truth when he identified Rubin Carter as the murderer.
At the end of Carter's second trial, Judge Bruno Leopizzi instructed the jurors to acquit Carter and Artis if they did not believe Bello. The judge did this over the strenuous objections of the prosecution. The integrated jury apparently believed Bello, because Carter and Artis were convicted in less than nine hours.
JUDGE LARNER'S KEY DECISION
Why Bello's Recantation
"Lacked the Ring of Truth"
Al Bello and Arthur Bradley both indentified Rubin Carter as one of the killers in 1966, but recanted that testimony in 1974, igniting the drive for a new trial.
After a hearing, Judge Larner rejected those recantations and said "the ring of truth is totally absent." Why? A key reason is that Bradley was in prison when Bello first identified Carter. The men had no chance to concoct a consistent story, yet when Bradley was later questioned and reluctantly identified Carter, their stories meshed. After their recantations, howver, they gave different stories and Bello's testimony was evasive.
At Carter's second trial, Bello testified gave his original testimony -- that it was Carter and Artis he saw outside the bar Read more reasons for the judge's ruling. --- Read the judge's decision in full (pdf file).
Now Available on Compact Disc
Bello ran into the gunmen as they were leaving the Lafayette Grill murder scene. He was 10-to-15-feet away from them when he realized they weren't detectives and ran for his life. Now you can hear him tell his story.
You will need the new RealPlayer to hear these files. Go to this page to download a FREE player.
Part I: It's not the best quality, but listen for the key phrase: "I thought that I had seen this one man, I thought it was Rubin Carter." Listen with RealPlayer (3 min, 27 sec)
Part II: Bello says, "When the police came back with 'em he [Carter] was dressed the same way an' everything. You know what I mean? So in my mind I know it had to be him. It was the same person I had seen come around the corner." Listen with RealPlayer. (2 min, 49 sec) Click here for a partial transcript.
Bello Identifies Carter's Car: Police apprehended Carter and brought him to the Lafayette Grill just 30 minutes after the murders, Bello recognized "the same car an' the same people I saw" earlier -- the getaway car and the gunmen. DeSimone is recapping here, which is why he is making statements. Listen with RealPlayer. (29 sec)
"Secret" Bello Tape Was Actually Mentioned in Carter's 1967 Trial
In 1975, Carter's supporters made a big deal about a tape recording they claimed was "suppressed" by the prosecution because it contained evidence of "deals" made to get the testimony of prosecution witness Al Bello. But the existence of the "secret" tape was actually revealed during Carter's 1967 trial. Full story from Oct. 16, 1975.
NOW AVAILABLE on COMPACT DISC!
"When the police came back with 'em [Carter] was dressed the same way an' everything. ... So in my mind I knew it had to be him." -- Al Bello
THE "SECRET" TAPE: Bello Identifies Carter & Artis as the Gunmen
You saw the misleading depiction of this interview in the movie; now you can hear what it REALLY sounded like.