Why Judge Larner rejected
Bello and Bradley recantations
Published in The Herald-News,
Passaic-Clifton, N.J., 1975
By CAL DEAL
Herald-News Staff Writer
Alfred Bello and Arthur Bradley say they lied.
Superior Court Judge Samuel Larner says he doesn't believe
them. But why?
That is spelled out in a 46-page opinion by Larner, who rejected
the request of convicted murderers Rubin "Hurricane"
Carter and John Artis for a new trial.
In that opinion, Larner raises an important point. Bradley
was imprisoned when Bello first identified Carter and Artis for
authorities. The two witnesses had no chance to concoct a consistent
story, he said, and they gave their statements to police independently.
Yet those two statements meshed. They did not conflict.
CARTER AND Artis were convicted of a 1966 triple murder at
Paterson's Lafayette Grill. Both are serving life sentences.
During the 1967 trial, Bello and Bradley were star witness
for the prosecution. Bello said he saw Carter and Artis leave
the Grill immediately after the murders. Bradley saw only Carter.
Both recanted those identifications last year. Both have long
This is how Bello's testimony at that trial came about, according
to uncontradicted testimony at the new trial hearing:
June 17, 1966 -- The morning of the murders, Bello
was question but did not identify Carter and Artis. He said later
he withheld the information because he feared physical harm from
Carter or his friends. He also feared incriminating himself.
At the time of the murders, he and Arthur Bradley were attempting
to break into the Ace Sheet Metal Co., one block from the Lafayette
July 1966 -- Bello first reveals that Bradley was with
him on the night of the murders.
Aug. 4, 1966 -- Bello is questioned but discloses nothing
Oct. 3, 1966 -- Paterson Det. Donald LaConte sees Bello
enter a tavern and goes in. In their conversation, Bello blurts
out, "I'm all messed up since this shooting happened ...
I'm scared." He said a black woman had approached him and
warned him not to talk about the shootings.
LaConte pressed for the names of the killers.
"You had the man and let him go," Bello said
before identifying Carter.
Why had he waited so long to make that statement?
"I'm scared. Rubin Carter has friends. I have a brother
who is in State's Prison. I have to think of him," Bello
Later that day, Bello met with LaConte and Detective Sat.
Robert Kohl in a Paterson diner. He told of seeing Carter and
Artis come out of the Lafayette Grill after the shootings. He
said Bradley also saw Carter.
Oct. 11, 1966 -- Lt. Vincent DeSimone of the Passaic County
prosecutor's office questions Bello. Bello's statement was "substantially
similar to his trial testimony, including unequivocal identification
of Carter and Artis," Larner wrote.
Oct. 14, 1966 -- Bello gives a formal statement at the prosecutor's
office under oath. "I am positive it was Rubin Carter,"
he said. Carter and Artis are arrested.
Bello now says that he lied when he identified Carter and
Artis because he hoped to collect $10,500 in reward money and
because the police promised to help him if he got arrested again.
He says his false testimony was "molded" by law enforcement
officials. He saw the killers, but naming Carter and Artis was
"a grave mistake," he reportedly said..
IN HIS OPINION, Larner notes that Bello singled out DeSimone
"as the one law enforcement officer who pressured him into
lying at (the) trial." However, Bello identified Carter
and Artis many months before the trial "and at a time before
there could have been pressures from Lt. DeSimone," Larner
During the recantation hearing, Bello claimed two other
law enforcement people helped develop his false testimony. In
one case he failed to support the charge and in the second case
he admitted it was untrue, according to the judge.
Bello had no memory problems when he recanted his identification
of Carter and Artis, Larner said.
"However, when pressed on cross-examination on significant
matters which might cast doubt on the credibility of his recantation,
his memory became poor and he constantly resorted to the ploy,
'I don't recall!'" he said.
KENT KELLOGG, a friend of Bello's, testified at the Carter-Artis
trial. He said on the morning of the murders he asked Bello what
happened at the Lafayette Grill.
"Rubin Carter shot up the whole bar," Bello told
him, according to Kellogg's unrecanted testimony.
Larner also notes the naturalness of the context in which
Bello's original testimony came about. He points out that DeSimone
frequently cautioned Bello to tell the truth.
BRADLEY had been at Bordentown for two months when Bello first
talked. His 1967 trial testimony came about as follows, according
August 3, 1966 -- Bradley is arrested in connection
with a series of robberies and burglaries.
Oct. 3, 1966 -- Bello identifies Carter as one of the
killers and says Bradley can identify him also.
Oct. 6, 1966 -- Bradley is interviewed by police at
Bordentown. He is hesitant about identifying Carter but when
a prison guard leaves the room, he does so. Bradley says he fears
for his safety if his statement becomes known. He asks to be
transferred to another prison.
Oct. 14, 1966 -- Bradley gives a sworn statement at
the prosecutor's office identifying Carter. "It contains
in substance the facts to which he testified at the trial and
which he now rejects as untrue," Larner wrote.
Bradley says he lied about Carter in 1966-67 because he had
many criminal charges pending against him at the time. He said
he hoped police would go easy on him in those case because of
Instead of recanting simply his identifications of Carter,
however, Bradley recanted his entire testimony. That included
his description of his movements at the time of the shootings.
He originally said he ran to the Lafayette Grill after hearing
the shots and saw Carter leaving the Grill with a shotgun.
Larner points out one problem with Bradley's blanket recantation:
Bello's unrecanted testimony.
While Bello says he lied when he identified Carter and Artis,
he says the rest of his testimony is true. That includes his
descriptions of Bradley's actions. Bradley now says he never
did the things Bello says he did.
For the first time, according to the record, their testimony
does not mesh.
Why the recantations?
Larner believes Bello recanted because law enforcement officials
didn't help him get the $10,500 reward "and because DeSimone
failed to exert himself to assist Bello in connection with subsequent
Also, "it is manifest" that Bello and Bradley fear
for their safety if they should be jailed again, the judge said.
They fear Carter could "wreak retribution" through
his power and influence among inmates in the prisons, Larner
"The ring of truth is totally absent in the recantations
of both witnesses," Larner concludes.