Court news: Aviles sentencing Tuesday; grand jury in cop shooting

Aviles facing 15 years in his baby’s death

Michael Aviles, 43, of Haverstraw faces a maximum of 15 years in prison Tuesday for causing the death of his 5-month-old daughter, whose skull and ribs were fractured during a torturous beating inside her home while under the care of her parents.

Aviles was convicted by County Court Judge William K. Nelson in January of second-degree manslaughter, a felony count finding that he involuntarily caused the death of Michelle Aviles in January 2010. Nelson also acquitted Aviles and the baby’s mother, Lissette Capellan, of second-degree murder.

Attorney Hollis Griffin, argued during the non-jury trial that Aviles was too drunk to remember what happened, but made some statements implying he dropped the baby or harmed her.

Capellan claimed through her lawyer, David Goldstein, that Aviles killed the baby and she slept through whatever he did, though they claim to have found the baby unresponsive more than 2 hours before arriving at Nyack Hospital.

Aviles faces 3 1/2 to 15 years, with prosecutor Stephen Moore expected to ask  Nelson for the maximum sentence.

Photo at right: Michael Aviles being arrested in January 2010

Gilles shooting case

A Rockland grand jury began hearing evidence today in the shooting death of Spring Valley resident Herve Gilles by a village police officer during an early morning fight in a parking lot outside a bar December.

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe has said a grand jury will hear the evidence from three separate investigations into Gilles’s death.

An initial police investigation found the shooting justified because Roper acted in self-defense as Gilles went after officer John Roper, took the officer’s nightstick and had bitten the officer.

Gilles, 48, who came to Spring Valley from Haiti in 1984, had a history of mental health issues and being combative and loud with the police and others when he was off his medication or drunk. Police responded to a security guard from El Buen Gusto at 11 Furman Ave. reporting an emotionally disturbed man was creating a disturbance.

Gilles’s supporters don’t believe the officer needed to shoot Gilles, calling for the officer to be fired. A family lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said Gilles’ relatives would await the outcome of the grand jury but doesn’t believe the shooting of Gilles in the head was justifiable.

The law allows police officers to defend themselves and use all necessary force to make an arrest.

Steve Lieberman

Steve Lieberman joined The Journal News as an editor in February 1984 and became a reporter during the spring of 1986. He has covered police, courts and legal issues for more than a decade, after reporting on county, town, village and state governments and general issues. He received more than a dozen state awards for writing and reporting. Born and raised in The Bronx, he has lived in Rockland since 1988.