Every murder trial, no matter how horrific, has at least one humorously entertaining moment. Such a moment came this morning at the retrial of Selwyn Days, who is being tried for the third time in Westchester County Court in the deaths of Eastchester millionaire Archie Harris and his home healthcare worker Betty Ramcharan.
Stanley Rosen, a spry and wiry nonagenarian, took the stand to offer a time frame in which the killings took place. He was one of the last people to see Harris and Ramcharan alive. He came to adjust his previous testimony that he met with Harris on Nov. 19, 1996. Phone records show he was mistaken and he actually saw Harris and Ramcharan at Harris’ Berkeley Place home on Nov. 18. Prosecutors contend that Days killed the pair between Nov. 18 and Nov. 21, 1996.
When Assistant District Attorney Perry Perrone asked Rosen about how the DA’s office flew him up to New York to testify, this funny exchange took place:
“We provided a hotel room?”
“If you call it that,” Rosen deadpanned. The entire courtroom cracked up, and a sheepish Perrone smiled and muttered about the county’s budget.
Not letting the moment slide, lead defense lawyer Roberto Finzi promised Rosen he would keep his cross-examination brief, so the DA’s office “can get you home and off the county’s diet.” Finzi bantered a bit with Rosen when asking two DA investigators who flew down to Florida to show Rosen the newly-discovered phone records in March 2010.
“In March?” Finzi said, likely thinking of the weather in Florida at that time. “Beats New York.”
“Sure does,” Rosen said.
Before retiring to Florida, Rosen sold advertising for Martinelli Publications, a chain of 8 weekly papers in southern Westchester, and he met with the cantankerous Harris at his home to discuss a full-page ad Harris wanted to buy in the Eastchester Record. Harris, who had been accused of sexually abusing his last health aide — the defendant’s mother, Stella Days — wanted to publicly offer $500,000 to charity if anyone could offer proof that he ever molested any of his healthcare workers. While he testified previously that he met with Days on Nov. 19, he said phone records now show he met with Harris on Nov. 18.