Judge Wetzel retiring

State Supreme Court Justice William Wetzel is leaving the black robes behind for retirement. Wetzel, a one-time Briarcliff Manor Village Justice, spent years in Manhattan before being transferred to the Westchester County Courthouse last year.

While in Manhattan, Wetzel presided over the cybersex trial of Oliver Jovanovic in 1998 and was sharply criticized by the state appeals court for using the rape shield law to bar the jury from seeing lurid mails between the alleged victim and defendant. The appeals court overturned Jovanovic’s conviction. Most recently, Wetzel presided over the rape-murder trial of Walter Maddox of Yonkers, who was convicted of raping three women and killing one of them. He also presided over the murder trial of Vetal Bonhomme, who is serving a 20-year sentence for a shooting death in Mount Vernon and sentenced New Rochelle hand-chopper Christopher Calise to 15 years in prison.

For those interested, Wetzel’s retirement party will be held at Vintage in downtown White Plains from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 2. Cost is $40 for food and an open bar. Call 824-5437 by May 21 to RSVP.

Scenes from the Maddox conviction

tjndc5-5nj0xqg5ocl1jmld03jz_thumbnailWalter Maddox has been convicted of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and a slew of other sex crimes for three rapes in south Yonkers in 2008, one of them ending fatally.

Click here to read the story about the verdict. Now here’s the extra scoop:

The verdict came down at 2:15 p.m. One side of the courtroom was nearly filled with members of the Westchester District Attorney’s office, which is typical when verdicts are read in homicide trials. No one was there for Maddox, except the dozen or so court officers surrounding Maddox and guarding the door in case he tried to make a run for it.

Acting state Supreme Court Justice William A. Wetzel told everyone in the courtroom to remain seated and not react while the verdicts were read on all 13 counts. Everyone, including Maddox, complied.

After the courtroom emptied out, I waited around to interview jurors. And I waited. And waited. They must have been escorted out through the back passageways, because I didn’t even see them leave the third floor. I was hoping one of them would go to LoHud.com and comment on the online story (which some jurors have done in past cases) but no such luck.

I’d still like to talk to some jurors, so if you’re one of the 12 people who found Maddox guilty, please leave a comment here. Thanks!

Maddox trial continues

Ttjndc5-5nj0xqg5ocl1jmld03jz_thumbnailhe testimony keeps on coming in the case of Walter Maddox of Yonkers, who is one trial for raping three woman and killing one of them in a six-month span in 2008.

Yesterday’s testimony came from one of his accusers, a 25-year-old Yonkers woman who said Maddox came up to her as she was in O’Boyle Park the morning of June 30, 2008. He asked her the time, and they had a brief conversation about being from the south. He left, and a short time later, the woman said she was grabbed from behind, put into a choke hold and dragged behind a retaining wall, where she blacked out. When she came to, she said Maddox was raping her.

Maddox told police the woman was a prostitute that he paid to have sex with him in the park. During cross examination, defense lawyer Harvery Loeb noted that the woman pointed to another man in a police photo array as her rapist. When police told her it wasn’t him (DNA didn’t match), they showed her a second photo array with Maddox’s photo in it, and she pointed to his picture. She testified that she was “100 percent” sure that Maddox raped her. She said it was difficult at first to identify her rapist because he wore a ball cap during the attack; none of the men in the police photos wore hats. However, prosecutors said Maddox’s ex-girlfriend — who also has accused Maddox of raping her on Aug. 31, 2008 — had a cell phone photo of Maddox wearing the exact same type of ball cap that the alleged rape victim described.

Today’s proceedings included testimony from an employee at Yonkers Laundromat, who said she found Roberta Galicia-Lagos’ body, naked form the waist down, on the floor of the laundromat the morning of Dec. 8, 2008.

The trial will continue today and tomorrow. Fredric Green is the prosecutor, with Wendy Parra sitting second chair.

Judge keeps Maddox rape/murder cases together

Today, Westchester County Judge Jeffrey A. Cohen denied a lawyer’s request to sever the cases against accused serial rapist Walter Maddox, who is facing life in prison in the rape and slaying of a 25-year-old woman at a Yonkers laundromat last month.

The ruling means Maddox, 31, will face one jury that will decide his culpability in the Dec. 8. slaying, as well as in two other brutal rapes during the summer near Yonkers’ O’Boyle Park.

Maddox, also from Yonkers, is accused of raping and killing Roberta Galicia-Lagos in the Yonkers Laundromat on Hawthorne Avenue, where she worked part time cleaning early in the morning. A co-worker found Galicia-Lagos’ body in the laundry’s bathroom. She had been strangled, and sexually assaulted.

Detectives investigating her homicide linked the case through DNA to two violent rapes in Yonkers where both victims had been strangled but survived. Authorities say Maddox dragged one woman to a secluded area in O’Boyle Park on June 30, raped her and choked her unconscious. A month later, he allegedly raped and choked another woman in an apartment just a few feet from the same park.

Maddox lived in the same southside neighborhood where he is accused of committing the crimes. He has bene held without bail since his arraignment on 18 felonies, including first- and second-degree murder, attempted murder, predatory sexual assault, rape, criminal sex act and assault.

He is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.