DiGuglielmo conviction upheld in ’96 deli shooting

Former New York City Police Officer Richard DiGuglielmo (left) lost any chance of getting out of prison before 2019 today. That’s because the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, rejected his bid to have his conviction overturned.

In a tersely worded two-page statement, the court found there was “no reasonable possibility” that DiGuglielmo would have been found not guilty had a jury been told that a witness felt he had been coerced to change his initial account that DiGgugliemo was justified in shooting Charles Campbell.

“We are pleased that our State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, found no merit to Mr. DiGuglielmo’s appeal and unanimously affirmed what has been our position all along, that Mr. DiGuglielmo’s murder conviction was properly obtained and the County Court was wrong in vacating the conviction,” Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a written statement today. “The jury in the case soundly rejected the defendant’s claim of justification after hearing eyewitness testimony from twelve people during his trial that the victim Charles Campbell was backing away when he was shot three times by Mr. DiGuglielmo. With today’s order, the Court of Appeals has rejected all claims against that the conviction.”

The Campbell family will be releasing a statement later today.

DiGuglielmo, who was convicted of second-degree murder, will be eligible for parole in eight years. He was released briefly in September 2008 after a former Westchester County court judge threw out his conviction, but was sent back to prison a year ago after an appeals court reinstated it.

Behind the scenes at the Arroyo trial

I had a chance this afternoon to talk to the forewoman of the jury that convicted retired NYPD detective Jose Arroyo of drugging and raping — but not kidnapping — a woman at a Greenburgh motel. Click here to read the web update.

The forewoman’s name is Linda Blake, and she’s a 49-year-old Greenburgh resident who works as an administrator for a computer company.  This was her first trial, as it was for several other jurors, who deliberated yesterday afternoon and this morning before reaching their split verdict.

She said deliberations were “very, very intense” and that the panel was split at first between Arroyo’s guilt and innocence. But while each juror had an opinion about Arroyo, the victim, and the truthfulness (or not) of several witnesses, she said the verdict was made solely on the evidence presented at the trial.

The jury spent almost as much time reviewing the evidence as they did deliberating it. As jury forewoman, Blake sent out several notes on behalf of the panel, asking for read-backs of part of the victim’s testimony, medical testimony about the timeline of drug impact and the definition of second-degree kidnapping. They also repeatedly watched parts of a security video from Doyle’s Pub in the Bronx, where Arroyo met the victim and, prosecutors alleged, spiked her drink.

Blake said the jury could not tell from the evidence if the woman was so impaired that she could not consent to leave with Arroyo. The uncertainty stemmed from medical tesimony about how long Ambien needs to take effect and a witness who said the victim walked across the street after leaving the bar with Arroyo.

But she said there was no doubt that the drug had taken effect by the time they reached the motel, and that she was unable to consent to the sex or to being posed and photographed nude.

“We used the evidence, our experience and our common sense,” she said.