The Rockland District Attorney’s Office’s record on trials got off to a rocky 2009 start this week. The office lost far more trials than it won last year.
During an attempted robbery case this week against Raymond King of Nyack, a major prosecution’s witness, store clerk Asim Javed, declined to identify King after looking around the courtroom. Javed apparently rough it up with King inside a Spring Valley deli last May.
King was sitting at the defense table in a suit-and-tie with his lawyer, Kenneth Murphy, who told me this was the second time in his 25-year-career that he’s witnessed a witness being unable to identify his assailant. The only other time was in the Bronx.
Murphy said Javed presented himself very well in court and attends Rutger’s University. When it came to pointing out King, he changed the course of the jury trial before New York state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly at the County Courthouse in New City.
“My heart did a little flip and my first thought was things were finally going our way,” Murphy said. “Our defense was this wasn’t a robbery or attempted robbery. It was an argument over matches and identification was not an issue. I thought they might try to identify him in some other fashion.”
Prosecutor Dominic Crispino apparently was a bit taken back when Javed put a hole in his case after testifying for 15 to 20 minutes, possibly thinking this might raise reasonable doubt among the jurors, Murphy said.
Crispino asked for an adjournment from Kelly – a legal term for a time-out – and consulted with his bosses.
Crispino came back to court with an offer of third-degree attempted assault and a sentence of time served. Plus, King pleaded to a felony violation of probation charge with a time-served sentence.
Murphy said he jumped at the offer and went to his client, who took a plea to a lesser charge with no jail time, as opposed to potentially 1 to 3 years upon conviction. King had been held in jail since his arrest on May 1, but that could not be undone.
Spring Valley police arrested King, 44, of Nyack, in May. He had been working at a local religious school – the former Singer’s catering hall – when he went into RJS Quick Pick Deli on Central Avenue.
King went in for cigarettes and a soda, Murphy said. Inside the deli, he had words with Javed’s mother, who didn’t speak English, over whether he’d get matches or should buy a lighter.
Murphy said Javed came out, thought King was pushing buttons on the cash register and tussled with King, who ran off. The police were called, hunted for King, caught him and charged him with attempted robbery, a charge brought by a grand jury.
Murphy doubted the case should have been indicted as an attempted robbery, saying the supposed victims and prosecutors over-reacted.
“It was not a robbery, but a fiasco,” Murphy said. ” I do think they over-reacted. Nothing was taken.”