<![CDATA[NBC New York - Crime and Courts]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/crime-and-courts http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSat, 25 Feb 2017 18:16:31 -0500Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:16:31 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Exclusive: NYPD Hatchet Attack Survivors Talk to News 4]]> Thu, 07 May 2015 16:51:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000007039683_1200x675_440437827788.jpg The four officers who were attacked in Queens last October speak exclusively to News 4's Jonathan Dienst.]]> <![CDATA[Suspect's DNA Profile in NYC Google Worker Slaying Revealed]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:41:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mass-runner-killed-0808.jpg

Authorities in Massachusetts say they now have a DNA profile of the person believed to have killed a 27-year-old New York City woman out running near her mother's Massachusetts home last summer.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the suspect is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He would have had scratches on his body following Vanessa Marcotte's Aug. 7 slaying.

The suspect is also Latino and had a shaved head based on witness descriptions, according to Early.

Marcotte, a New York City resident who worked as an account manager for Google, was in Princeton, Massachusetts, visiting her family that fateful weekend when she went on a jog, but never returned. Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away later that evening. Authorities say there were also signs she had struggled with her attacker.

State police announced in November they were searching for a dark SUV that had been parked on the side of the road where she was last seen in connection with her slaying.

Investigators have also received more than 1,300 tips to a dedicated tip line.

Meanwhile, her family spoke out days before Christmas, thanking the public for supporting them and announcing they had started a foundation in Marcotte's name that encourages her values of "giving back and volunteerism."

"Not a day goes by that we don't reflect on the enormity of her loss," Marcotte's uncle, Steven Therrien, said while reading a statement.

Marcotte's slaying came five days after a woman in Queens was murdered while on a run. Police have arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis after matching his DNA to samples found on 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whom authorities said "ferociously" fought her attacker. However, police in New York and Massachusetts have added there is nothing connecting the Queens case to the case in Princeton.



Photo Credit: NECN / Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Cop in Deadly Crash Declines Plea Deal, Will Go to Trial]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:28:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pedro-Abad-Wreck-Inset.jpg

A former New Jersey police officer charged in a fatal wrong-way crash on Staten Island in 2015 will face a jury in a few weeks after declining a plea deal. 

"We are going to trial," Pedro Abad's lawyer said in a brief hearing Wednesday. Jury selection is now expected to begin April 10.

Abad faces eight to 25 years in prison if convicted, but was offered a plea deal for a sentence of five to 21 years. The deadline for that offer was Wednesday. 

Prosecutors say Abad was drunk when he collided with a tractor trailer on the West Shore Expressway in the morning hours of March 20, 2015. Two passengers in Abad's car were killed, including a fellow Linden, New Jersey officer.

Abad has pleaded not guilty to charges in the case. Last December, a federal judge denied a defense request to suppress Abad's blood-alcohol test results.

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2005 Beheading Screams, Kicks in Court]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:01:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cold+case+arraignment.jpg

A 38-year-old man arrested late last year in the 2004 slaying of a teenage girl left naked in a Brooklyn alley now faces charges in the cold-case death of a 19-year-old man whose dismembered, beheaded body was found in a subway tunnel in 2005, authorities say. 

Kwauhuru Govan was brought into Brooklyn court kicking and screaming Wednesday to face charges in the death of Rashawn Brazell, who left his mother's Bushwick apartment in February 2005 and was never seen again. Govan yelled about being framed in the case; officers had to hold onto him throughout the hearing. He is due back in court Thursday for arraignment.

"I didn't do anything, judge," Govan said. "I can't dissect a frog." 

The unsolved killing of Brazell has mystified the city for years. Days after he disappeared, two MTA workers found a bloodied plastic bag with a foot and other body parts in a tunnel leading to the Nostrand Avenue station. More remains were located at a recycling hub for subway trash. 

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said it has been a long 12 years, but his office was gratified to have an arrest in the case.

Brazell's mother, who kept his name in the news for years in a desperate effort to find his killer, said a brief "thank you" to police at a news conference Wednesday. Over the years, she has described her son as a promising young man with a nose for fashion with a magnetic personality. 

Govan was arrested in November in connection with another slaying, and after his arrest, investigators realized he had lived across the street from Brazell. At that point, a law enforcement source says they started looking at him as a possible suspect in Brazell's death. The source said investigators now believe the bloody bag they found at the crime scene in 2005 belonged to Govan. 

In November Govan was charged with murder and kidnapping charges in the 2004 killing of 17-year-old Sharabia Thomas after new DNA evidence linked him to the case, prosecutors said. Thomas' naked body was found inside two laundry bags on the side of alleyway near 130 Palmetto St. in Bushwick on Feb. 11, 2004, prosecutors said. She had suffered blunt force trauma to her head, face and torso, and had marks around her wrists and ankles indicating she had been tied up. 

DNA testing at the time turned up no results. Then, in June 2016, the NYPD cold case squad and the district attorney's forensic science unit requested another DNA testing from Thomas' fingernail clippings. This time, a full profile was developed and uploaded to the national DNA database maintained by the FBI, and turned up a match to a man arrested in 2014 for an armed robbery in Polk County, Florida, officials said. 

After Govan, formerly of Gates Avenue in Bushwick, was released from Florida prison on the robbery conviction, he was extradited to Brooklyn on the murder indictment, prosecutors said. 

Govan, who lived two blocks from Thomas' home in 2004, has denied knowing the teenager. His attorney, Fred Spiegel, suggested at the time of his arrest that the DNA could be false. Spiegel couldn't immediately be reached for comment on his arrest in the Brazell case.

Police in New York say they are working with law enforcement in other states where Govan lived over the years to determine if he may be connected to any other unsolved crimes. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Karina Vetrano Murder Suspect's Attorneys Attend Hearing]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:00:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chanel+lewis.jpg

The 20-year-old Brooklyn man charged in the death of Karina Vetrano, the New York City runner whose beaten, strangled body was found in a Queens marsh over the summer, will face a judge again in April. 

Attorneys for Chanel Lewis attended a hearing Tuesday, though Lewis did not appear.

Jamel Reed, a former high school classmate and friend, told NBC 4 New York outside court that Lewis was "very quiet, very chill, laidback. He didn't bother anybody, he graduated, he didn't have a criminal history." 

The Legal Aid Society, which is defending Lewis, reiterated its statement that he is "entitled to fairness and due process."

Police have said DNA evidence linked Lewis to Vetrano's killing, and that he made detailed, incriminating statements to detectives. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison. 

Lewis' family maintains he's innocent. 

"He's just a good guy, a wonderful guy, don't interfere with anybody," his father Richard Lewis previously said. "He's never had that problem in the 20 years I've had him in my world." 

"I raised my son to be a God-fearing man, and to respect life," mother Vita Lewis said. "My son is friendly, God-fearing, and would not hurt anybody." 


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<![CDATA[NY Mom Pleads Guilty in Case of Dead Baby in Fridge]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 17:03:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/218*120/5816deadbaby.jpg

The mother of a baby found decomposed after apparently being kept inside a refrigerator last August has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the child's death, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Deasia Bartee, 27, admitted pummeling 15-month-old Samia Rose on the back after she was arrested last summer, prosecutors say. She faces up to 25 years in prison when she's sentenced March 21. 

Samia Rose's body was found at their Mount Vernon apartment on Aug. 5, 2016, when police responded to a 911 call for a report of a child who died in her sleep, authorities said.

The toddler was found laying on her back in a playpen, her arms rigid and pointing toward the ceiling, prosecutors said. Her left eye appeared to be swollen shut, and she had no pulse and was lifeless. She was "extremely cold" to the touch. 

When she was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the doctor told police he thought the child was unusually cold and that she may have been refrigerated since she was in an advanced state of decomposition, prosecutors said. 

The mother ultimately admitted beating her child, and an autopsy found Samia Rose died of blunt force trauma, with a broken spine and internal bleeding. She was malnourished at the time, weighing just 14 pounds as a 15-month-old. 

Prosecutors previously said that Bartee has an extensive history with child protective services. Her other two children, ages 6 and 9 have been placed with the agency.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Man Now Charged With Murder in Death of 3-Year-Old NYC Boy]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 13:39:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/boyfriend+arrest+child+beaten.jpg

A Brooklyn man now faces murder and other charges in the beating death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old son, who spent a week on life support last year before ultimately passing away. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the upgraded charges against Salvatore Lucchesse, of Gravesend, Friday. The indictment comes about a week after the medical examiner ruled Jaden Jordan's death a homicide. Lucchesse had previously been charged with assault. 

Lucchesse was arraigned Friday on charges of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and child endangerment. He was remanded and faces up to life in prison if convicted of the top count against him. An attorney for the 24-year-old Lucchesse couldn't immediately be reached Friday.

Investigators say Jordan was left home alone with Lucchesse while the boy's mother was at work for about seven and a half hours Monday, Nov. 28. At some point during that time, Jordan allegedly defecated on himself. Around 4:30 p.m., investigators say Lucchesse called 911 and reported the boy was unconscious.

Jordan, found soiled and unresponsive, was taken to Coney Hospital and then transferred to Columbia, where he remained after falling into a coma. He had suffered severe head trauma, including a fractured skull, and was removed from life support Dec. 3. He died the same day. 

Jordan's death was the subject of a scathing report from the city's Department of Investigation that found the Administration for Children's Services woefully unprepared to handle emergency cases that come up outside of normal business hours. ACS had gotten a tip on Saturday, two days before workers got to Jordan, about possible child abuse at the home, but the agency said the address was wrong and it took workers through the weekend to find him.

The DOI report rips ACS for failing to get to the boy sooner, saying its investigation found that "the depth of errors over a two-day period was so significant, and the errors involved the overall implementation of policies so basic, that they go to the heart of ACS’s core mission of protecting children and implicate high-level, systemic problems." 

According to the report, ACS agreed to form a new Emergency Children's Services Applications Unit with specialized training on database assessment. The agency will also look at caseloads within ECS and determine staffing needs. 

ACS has said an internal review found none of its staffers acted inappropriately in the Jordan case, but DOI said the agency recently said it is taking various actions against six staff members, including corrective action plans, retraining and, for some, disciplinary charges including suspension. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Prom Date Dumped Teen's Body After Pal Killed Her: Pros.]]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 06:44:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sarah+stern+preston+taylor.jpg

The high school prom date who's now a suspected accomplice in the murder of 19-year-old Sarah Stern allegedly confessed to helping his roommate dispose of her body, prosecutors said in court Tuesday.

As Preston Taylor appeared in court for a bail hearing, prosecutors said he told police last week that his roommate Liam McAtansey planned Stern's murder for six months. 

All three were hometown acquaintances in Neptune City, and McAtasney himself was a childhood friend of Stern, according to prosecutors. After Stern went missing last December, some had hoped she simply ran away after withdrawing thousands of dollars from her bank account.

But prosecutors allege McAtansey has been plotting to rob Stern before killing her. 

Taylor told police that McAtansey said to him, "I'm at the bank, I'm going to do it now, I'm going to take her out," according to Assistant Montmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle.

The roommates then allegedly dumped Stern's body off the Route 35 bridge in Belmar after hiding it in the bushes behind her home for eight hours. 

Stern's clothing was found in one small safe buried on Sandy Hook, and thouands of dollars in cash in another safe buried at a Neptune park. 

When Taylor confessed to police, he showed no remorse, according to prosecutors. He had taken Stern to junior prom just a few years ago. 

"He is not concerned about what he did but about what's going to happen to him," said Doyle. 

Taylor's father, Jeremy Taylor, took the stand to plead for his son's release while awaiting trial, promising the court, "Your Honor, I will stay with him all the time." 

Ultimately, judge David Bauman ruled to keep Taylor locked up after hearing testimony about a witness fearful for his own safety. Taylor will be kept in jail unless he appeals the detention.

McAtansey, accused of the actual killing, has his detention hearing next week. 

Meanwhile, the search for Stern's body continues. Divers and helicopter units first scoured the Shark River in early December after finding Stern's fully operational car parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the bridge, the keys still in the ignition, Dec. 3. 

Investigators returned there last Friday to continue looking, acknowledging that it's possible currents and tides may have swept her body out to the Atlantic, but Monmouth Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni said at the time, "We are hoping for a miracle." 

Stern, an aspiring artist, is a graduate of Neptune High School, where she played softball and was a member of the swim team. She went to Brookdale Community College for a year, where she studied art and TV production.

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to McAtasney as their suspect, alleging he somehow knew about the cash withdrawal and came to Stern's home to rob her. McAtasney is charged with felony murder and other crimes in Stern's death; Taylor is accused of hindering apprehension and concealment of human remains, among other offenses. Both men appeared in court Thursday; it wasn't clear if either entered a plea. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Zymere Perkins' Aunts Plan $10M Suit Over His Beating Death]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:15:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/perkins2.jpg

Two aunts of Zymere Perkins, the Manhattan 6-year-old beaten to death after years of neglect, filed notice that they intend to sue the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the former head of the Administration for Children's Services.

Zymere died Sept. 26 after being hit repeatedly with a wooden broomstick and hung from his shirt on the back of a bathroom door by his mother's boyfriend, authorities say. The man, 42-year-old Rysheim Smith, became enraged when he saw that the boy had defecated in the living room of their Hamilton Heights apartment, according to a criminal complaint detailing the horrific abuse.

A damning mid-December report found that despite dozens of documented visits and contacts with the family, workers from ACS and the St. Luke’s preventive services agency dropped the ball, missing deadlines and failing to make sure Zymere saw a doctor.

The aunts' $10 million notice of claim, a required prelude to a formal lawsuit, was filed Tuesday morning.

"ACS and the other defendant agencies were deliberately indifferent to the abuse suffered by Zymere Perkins. They failed to take action over the course of at least five investigations that ACS itself conducted during Zymere Perkins’ life, starting on the day he was born in June of 2010," according to the claim.

City officials were not immediately available to comment on the claim. Late last year, De Blasio repeatedly decried Zymere's death and later said he would oversee an independent monitor to oversee ACS.



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA['Needle in a Haystack': New Details Emerge in Vetrano Case]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:10:10 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/karina+vetrano+suspect+5.jpg

New details are emerging about how police tracked down the 20-year-old suspect accused of murdering a young runner in Queens last summer, abandoning her strangled, beaten body in a marsh in what became one of the city's highest profile crimes in recent years. 

One of the lieutenants investigating the August death of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano remembered reports of a strange man skulking around Howard Beach, where the young woman often went running, and asked an anti-crime detective from the 106th Precinct to review his notes, authorities said Monday. 

The detective came up with a name: Chanel Lewis. 

On Thursday, detectives went to the Brooklyn home where Lewis lives with his mother and asked for a DNA sample to rule him out. Lewis complied. 

Two days later, on Saturday, forensic results showed Lewis' DNA matched some of the samples taken from various investigative points on Vetrano's body. The 20-year-old man was taken into custody that evening. 

Law enforcement sources say they also clothing collected from Lewis' home in East New York, including a hat that may have been worn during the attack. 

He initially didn't speak with detectives, nor did he ask for an attorney, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York. Around 5 a.m. the next morning, the sources say Lewis told one of the detectives, "I want to make things right." 

And, according to police sources, Lewis twice confessed on video, once with the NYPD and the other time during an interview with the Queens district attorney's office. 

"The defendant admitted to attacking the victim, admitted to beating her, to strangling her and dragging her body in the weeds," Queens District Attorney Michael Curtis said Sunday. 

Lewis did not, however, confess to sexually assaulting Vetrano, according to police. 

Vetrano's body was found Aug. 2 in Howard Beach. Detectives secured more than 600 DNA samples and sifted through over 250 leads from the public and 1,700 investigative reports over the course of their six-month investigation. 

At a news briefing on crime stats Monday, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said finding her alleged killer was like looking for "a needle in a haystack." 

Lewis had no prior criminal record -- only a series of summonses, including for urinating in public and being in the park after dark in Brooklyn. None of the summonses were received in Howard Beach, sources said. 

The lack of criminal history made it particularly difficult for investigators to zero in on Lewis, Boyce said. 

"Difficult cases take time but you don't stop," he said. 

Mayor de Blasio praised the NYPD's diligence. 

Lewis, meanwhile, is being held without bail after his arraignment Sunday on a charge of second-degree murder in Vetrano's death. Lewis has two attorneys through Legal Aid. His father described him as a "humble kid" who was a good student and wanted to go into social work. 

Vetrano's mother, Cathie, had harsh words for the suspect at his court appearance Sunday, nearly six months to the day her daughter's body was found. 

"He's a demon! He's a demon, he can burn in hell," Cathie Vetrano said. 

The young runner's father, Phil Vetrano, who spearheaded a grassroots social media effort to keep her name in the media, was among the search crews who found Vetrano's body. He said Sunday he was at a loss for words, but thanked police for their investigative efforts in solving his daughter's case. 

"We hoped to get to this point, one day," he said. "I am not going to say it's good, but we can move forward now. We are in a place we were never at, we know who did this." 

Lewis faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. 

Authorities believe he snatched Vetrano near an area connecting the remote Howard Beach route she jogged to an East New York bicycle path that runs along the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Police said they don't believe he and Vetrano knew each other prior to the crime.


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<![CDATA[Arrest in 2005 Case Once Featured on America's 'Most Wanted']]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 19:01:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tafare+berryman+jaime+rivera.jpg

An alleged gang member has been arrested on murder- and firearms-related charges in the 2005 shooting death of a promising college basketball player from Brooklyn, prosecutors announced Monday. 

Jaime Rivera, who prosecutors say is a member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation street gang, was charged in a two-count indictment with killing Tafare Berryman as the then 23-year-old ball player at C.W. Post tried to take a friend to a hospital after a fight at a Long Island nightclub April 3, 2005. Berryman was two weeks from graduating college. 

Berryman's mother wept in court Monday as Rivera was officially charged.

"Twelve years, I've waited for this day. Twelve years," Dawn Thompson told reporters outside court. "A lot of pain, a lot of cry, a lot of anger, a lot of tears. It destroyed my whole family."

Duane Thompson, who was just 13 when his brother was killed, said, "I never thought I would see this day in my life." 

He said Rivera appeared to have no remorse in court. 

"I can never understand how someone could take someone's life and just be so emotionless," he said. "He seemed so emotionless and it just made me so sad." 

The arrest of 32-year-old Rivera, whose mother is a retired NYPD officer and whose brother is a Freeport police officer, brings closure to a case that was once featured on "America's Most Wanted."

No one from Rivera's family would comment after he was arraigned. 

Prosecutors said the alleged gunman mistakenly thought Berryman had been part of a brawl outside the club involving gang members.

Since Berryman's death, his mother has kept a shrine to her son in the family's Brooklyn home, including trophies and other symbols of what might have been. Duane Thompson brought to court a basketball signed by Berryman's C.W. Post teammates after the murder. 

"Most of the things I did was inspired by him," said Thompson. 

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers said in a statement that gang violence has claimed too many promising young lives. 

“This case should serve as a message to all gang members, if you engage in violent gang activity, our law enforcement partners will not stop pursuing you until you are held accountable for your actions,” Capers said. 

"The mentality that an innocent person is some sort of threat to a gang member or a gang defies logic," added FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney. "A student who was out having a good time, ended up in the middle of a dangerous situation and was killed for absolutely no reason. No one deserves to die because they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The FBI joined the investigation when the case went cold, and helped arrest Rivera. 

Rivera has been ordered held without bail and could face the death penalty if convicted.



Photo Credit: NBC 4/Nassau County Police ]]>
<![CDATA[Man in Custody in Connection to Death of Jogger: Sources]]> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 11:46:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/runner-kariina-0803.jpg

A man is in custody Saturday in the death of Karina Vetrano, who was killed while jogging in a park in Queens, police sources tell NBC New York.

Vetrano, a 30-year-old avid runner, had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted on Aug. 2 in Howard Beach.

Detectives found the man in Brooklyn with the help of forensic evidence after looking at more than 200 suspects that fit a certain profile. Police sources say the person's DNA matches the DNA profile retrieved from Vetrano.

The man was interviewed on Tuesday, and he volunteered a DNA sample and the results came back Saturday, sources say.

Police sources say that the person in custody has an arrest history, but nothing of a sexual nature that would have made detectives focus on him specifically.

Vetrano's father Phil usually ran with her, but stayed home with an injury the day she was killed. 

A video released in September shows Vetrano jogging near her Howard Beach home the day she disappeared. Her body was later found in a marshy area just off the trail at Gateway National Recreation Area.

A GoFundMe page set up after Vetrano's death has raised nearly $290,000 toward the investigative effort. 

Her family held a rally on Thursday to mark six months since her death, and asked the state for additional DNA testing that day.

Phil Vetrano didn't immediately respond to a phone message and text seeking comment Saturday night. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York / Instagram
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<![CDATA[Investigators Seek More Answers in Missing NJ Woman Case]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:56:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sarah+stern+arrest.jpg

Investigators returned to a New Jersey river Friday to continue their search for the body of Sarah Stern, the 19-year-old woman who was allegedly killed and thrown off a bridge after a botched robbery at her home in early December. 

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, who joined law enforcement at the Route 35 Bridge in Belmar, said the search would be difficult, but investigators were hopeful for resolution. 

"The search of the Shark River continues as we partner with the State Police and we hope to locate the remains of Sarah Ster," he said. It is possible due to oceanic currents and tides that her remains might have been swept out of the river into the Atlantic. But we are hoping for a miracle."

The search to locate Stern's remains is expected to continue into the weekend.

A day earlier, his office announced the arrests of two 19-year-old men in connection with Stern's death. One, a childhood friend named Liam McAtasney, is accused of strangling the aspiring artist. The other, Preston Taylor, is accused of helping McAtasney get rid of the body. 

Prosecutors say Taylor was also a longtime acquaintance of Stern. All three lived in Neptune City. Gramiccioni would not go into detail Friday on what evidence his office has against the defendants.

Divers and helicopter units first scoured the Shark River in early December after finding Stern's fully operational car parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes of the bridge, the keys still in the ignition, Dec. 3. It was the day after she had last been seen. Many assumed she had jumped off. Prosecutors say some had hoped she simply ran away after withdrawing thousands of dollars from her bank account. 

A Crime Stoppers tip led police to McAtasney as their suspect, alleging he somehow knew about the cash withdrawal and came to Stern's home to rob her. McAtasney is charged with felony murder and other crimes in Stern's death; Taylor is accused of hindering apprehension and concealment of human remains, among other offenses. Both men appeared in court Thursday; it wasn't clear if either entered a plea.

No one answered the door at their respective homes Friday.

Stern's father, Michael, was in court for the initial hearing. An attorney asked media to respect the grieving father's privacy, and said Michael Stern was feeling "overwhelmed, as any parent would be." 

Stern is a graduate of Neptune High School, where she played softball and was a member of the swim team. She went to Brookdale Community College for a year, where she studied art and TV production.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Family Marks 6 Months Since Karina Vetrano's Body Was Found]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 08:06:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/runner-kariina-0803.jpg

The body of 30-year-old Karina Vetrano was found six months ago Thursday in a marshy park in Queens. The avid runner had been beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, and though authorities have culled DNA from three investigative points, state and local databases have yet to yield a match.  

No arrests have been made in the case, which has become one of the city's highest-profile unsolved murders in recent years. On Thursday, Vetrano’s family plans to rally at the site where the young woman entered the park Aug. 2; they want officials to allow the use of familial DNA evidence to find her killer.

Familial DNA searching is currently not allowed in New York. The Vetrano family has been campaigning for months to have investigators use the technique, which uses DNA found at the scene to look for the killer's relatives.

A GoFundMe page set up after Vetrano's death has raised nearly $290,000 toward the investigative effort, and in a post Thursday morning, Vetrano's father Phil asked supporters to come out in force for the rally.  

"I just want to remind everyone that today at 4 , exactly 6 months that Karina was murdered, we will have a press conference/ rally," wrote Phil Vetrano, who was among the search crews to find his daughter's body. He normally ran with her in the park but didn't go that fateful day because of an injury. "Those of u that can come please do. It at the exact spot that KArina went in . 83 st and 164 ave . Let's show support for DNA testing."

Prosecutors and police have also asked state forensics officials to allow the technique, saying that other investigative techniques have been exhausted.

Janine Kava, a spokeswoman for the state Commission on Forensic Science, said in December that state officials will continue working to provide law enforcement with "cutting-edge tools" to solve crimes "without compromising individual protections."



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York / Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[NY Cardiologist Gets 5 Years in Plot to Kill Rival Doctor]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:29:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Doctor-Arrest-Charges.jpg

A Long Island cardiologist who conspired to kill a rival doctor following a professional dispute has been sentenced to five years in prison. 

Anthony Moschetto will also face five years of post-release supervision under the sentencing arrangment announced Tuesday. The 56-year-old doctor pleaded guilty in October to criminal possession of a weapon, conspiracy, arson and other charges listed in a 77-count indictment. 

Nassau County prosecutors had recommended Moschetto be sentenced to 12 years. His medical license will be suspended. He must also turn over any legal firearms in his possession. 

Prosecutors said Moschetto offered an undercover officer $5,000 to have the rival doctor beaten and $20,000 to have him killed. He was recorded on video giving the officer $500 and blank prescriptions as a deposit. 

When investigators searched Moschetto's mansion in Sands Point, they found a cache of weapons hidden behind a motorized bookcase. 

Prosecutors say Moschetto also hired an intermediary to set the other doctor's office on fire. 

Two other men were also charged. One pleaded guilty. The other was acquitted.

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<![CDATA[Beau Accused of Murder in Death of Abused NYC 6-Year-Old Boy]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:00:37 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ZYMERE+PERKINS+1.jpg

The boyfriend of the mother of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, one of the highest-profile child abuse cases the city has seen in the last year, now faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the little boy's death.

Rysheim Smith, 42, who previously had been charged with child endangerment in the Manhattan case, was indicted on the upgraded offenses Tuesday. He's expected to be arraigned later in the day.   

The indictment comes three months after the city medical examiner ruled Perkins' death a homicide. An investigation further determined that the child died from fatal child abuse syndrome, which means he showed evidence of acute and chronic abuse and neglect.

According to the criminal complaint, the apartment where Perkins lived was infested with cockroaches and other insects. There was no electricity in the home, which had rotting food in the fridge and large amounts of mold, rust and mildew in the bathroom.

Zymere died Sept. 26 after what prosecutors say was months of abuse by his mother and Smith. The day he died, Smith allegedly beat him with a broostick and hung him by his shirt over the back of the bathroom door. According to a criminal complaint, Geraldine Perkins reported seeing Smith punch her son in the ribs and stomach multiple times and lift him by his neck. 

Last month, a damning state report revealed several instances where individuals who cared about little Perkins had called the Administration for Children's Services, starting when he was just a baby.

A tipster told the child abuse hotline Smith allegedly had hit Zymere at least 20 times at a June 2015 picnic while the boy's mother, Geraldine Perkins, neglected to interfere. Geraldine Perkins faces child endangerment charges.

Five ACS case workers were placed on desk duty after Zymere died, and four others were suspended for a month without pay. A probe by Comptroller Scott Stringer's office found that at least 10 children died within three months under the city agency's watch.

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<![CDATA[Beau of Dismembered Woman Found in Trash Charged With Murder]]> Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:54:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BodyPartsBXVictim.jpg

The 40-year-old boyfriend of a woman whose dismembered limbs were found in trash bins in New York and New Jersey last week -- her head and feet in a freezer -- has now been charged with second-degree murder in her death, officials said Thursday.

Somorie Moses was arrested over the weekend on charges of human corpse concealment and evidence tampering after authorities allegedly found the feet and head of 32-year-old Leondra Foster in his freezer.

Officials said Thursday a charge of second-degree murder had been added to the list of crimes of which he's accused. Prosecutors said he is awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court. 

"We in Brooklyn will seek justice for Leondra Foster, who was so tragically and brutally murdered," Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. 

Foster's torso and leg were initially discovered Jan. 17 at the Metropolitan Transfer Station in the Bronx's Hunts Point. Over the next 24 hours, investigators tracked the movement of trash containers and found her arms, which had no hands, at a trash station in Kearny, New Jersey. 

Surveillance footage and cellphone records led investigators to Moses. A cause of death for Foster has not yet been determined. Information on an attorney for Moses wasn't immediately available. 

At a press briefing Wednesday, Foster's anguished family members said they were struggling to process her gruesome death. 

"She always did for others before she did for herself," Foster's sister said in tears. "It's eating me up inside that he did this to her." 

Foster's mother said, crying, "It's very difficult because my granddaughter looks just like her mother. And every time I look at her, I see my daughter." 

Foster's sister says there were red flags about Moses, a registered sex offender with a history of arrests. She said he made death threats against Foster. 

"When she got the threat that he said he would kill my niece, my sister, myself, my mom, my dad, I think he got more hard," she said. 

The sister said in devastation, "No woman deserves this at all. If you're in a domestic situation, get out. This could be you, this could be anybody's mother. Anybody's sister, aunt. This could be anybody." 

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<![CDATA[Dismembered Woman Found in NYC, NJ Trash Identified]]> Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:55:40 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BodyPartsBXVictim.jpg

The woman whose body parts were found strewn in trash bins in New York and New Jersey last week, her head and feet allegedly discovered in her boyfriend's freezer, has been identified as 32-year-old Leondra Foster, law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York. 

Foster's boyfriend, 40-year-old Somorie Moses, was arrested over the weekend on charges of human corpse concealment and evidence tampering, and sources tell NBC 4 New York the Bronx district attorney is expected to add homicide to the list of crimes. 

Foster's anguished family members were still struggling to process her gruesome death. 

"She always did for others before she did for herself," Foster's sister said in tears. "It's eating me up inside that he did this to her." 

Foster's mother said, crying, "It's very difficult because my granddaughter looks just like her mother. And every time I look at her, I see my daughter." 

Foster's torso and leg were initially discovered Jan. 17 at the Metropolitan Transfer Station in Hunts Point. Over the next 24 hours, investigators tracked the movement of trash containers and found her arms, which had no hands, at a trash station in Kearny, New Jersey. 

Surveillance footage and cellphone records led investigators to Moses, who was arrested Sunday after Foster's head, hands and feet were allegedly found in his freezer during the execution of a search warrant. 

A cause of death for Foster has not yet been determined, but the medical examiner has ruled the case a homicide. Information on an attorney for Moses wasn't immediately available. 

Veronica Carr, a neighbor of Moses, had said the man "stayed to himself, he was real quiet, but you know how you get a feeling about somebody. He didn't set off too good with me, so I stayed away." 

Foster's sister says there were red flags about Moses, a registered sex offender with a history of arrests. She said he  made death threats against Foster. 

"When she got the threat that he said he would kill my niece, my sister, myself, my mom, my dad, I think he got more hard," she said. 

The sister said in devastation, "No woman deserves this at all. If you're in a domestic situation, get out. This could be you, this could be anybody's mother. Anybody's sister, aunt. This could be anybody." 

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