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Queens DA Defends Veteran Prosecutor Against Misconduct Claim

By Janon Fisher | August 11, 2013 3:10pm
 The Queens DA's office is defending veteran prosecutor Debra Lynn Pomodore amidst a defense laywer's claim of prosecutorial misconduct in a 19 year old murder case.
The Queens DA's office is defending veteran prosecutor Debra Lynn Pomodore amidst a defense laywer's claim of prosecutorial misconduct in a 19 year old murder case.
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Ellis Kaplan

KEW GARDENS — The Queens District Attorney blasted claims of police and prosecutorial misconduct by a Harlem man serving 25 to life in prison for gunning down his ex-lover — a street preacher — calling them "preposterous."

"He has recklessly disparaged the integrity of the trial prosecutor," Assistant District Attorney Ushir Pandit wrote in court papers.

Inmate Robert Jones, who asked a judge in May to vacate his 1996 guilty verdict for gunning down Antoine Stone on a street in the Far Rockaways, claimed the prosecutor Debra Lynn Pomodore and Detective Gerald Weiser coerced and intimidated witnesses and withheld evidence in the case.

Two witnesses who testified in the case have recanted their testimony, and support Jone's claim.

Still, the prosecutor strongly denied the allegations in their response filed on July 17.

"Jones in this motion virulently and baselessly attacked the integrity of the prosecutor and accused her of withholding purported exculpatory evidence," the DA's office wrote in their response.

Jones who is now serving the 17th year of his life sentence claimed that Pomodore withheld ballistic evidence that tied the murder weapon to a previous shooting and refused to take "no" for an answer when a witness could not identify Jones.

The defense team now acknowledge that the evidence regarding the gun was shared with his lawyer at the trial.

Pomodore, a highly regarded prosecutor with a tough-as-nails reputation, saw another murder case crumble in March when a judge found that she did not disclose that a witness had been paid by the DA's office.

Weiser pressured witnesses into identifying Jones in a line up and at trial and even pointed to a mugshot of Jones from a previous drug arrest and telling the woman "We'll make this very easy for you this is the guy," she said in an affidavit.

Jones also irked the DA when he theorized in court papers that the detective even called a fake tip into a police hotline to implicate Jones in the case.

"It is fantastic that an experienced prosecutor and the police conspired to frame [Jones]," Pandit wrote.

Prosecutors shot down speculation from Jones's lawyer that Weiser's conscious dogged him for seven years after the conviction and eventually drove him to commit suicide in 2002.

"[The] defendant's attempt to imply that Detective Weiser's death was because of guilt for his purported misconduct in this case is nothing short of preposterous," Pandit said in court papers.

The Queens DA's office maintains that they got it right.

On Sept. 10, 1994, Jones rode up to Stone, who had been ministering to drug dealers at the time, on a "Ross" bicycle and shot him in the stomach, according to their version of events.

The two men had attended the same school and had a brief sexual relationship, according to court papers.

The police told one of the witnesses, "The person who was arrested was gay and that the victim was killed because he had found religion, became Christian, and had ended the relationship with the murderer."

Jones implicated himself in the murder when detectives approached him two weeks later and he told them, "I know why you're here. I didn't kill Antoine Stone."

Meanwhile, international law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has joined the case providing pro bono work for Jones. They are due in court on Thursday, August 15 in front of Judge Joseph A. Zayas.