New York City Detective Louis Scarcella earned a reputation for closing cases .

After years of scrutiny of NY detective, a case gets retried

During the bloody years when the New York City murders were at their height, Detective Louis Scarcella earned a reputation for closing cases.

A second-generation cop who smoked cigars, ran marathons, worked at a Coney Island amusement park, and joked “adventurous” on his business card, the now-retired detective has bluntly lied to suspects and even prayed with them for information.

In the 80s and 90s he got one confession after another. But in the past nine years, nearly 20 murders and other convictions have been overturned after defendants accused Scarcella of coercing or fabricating false confessions and false witness identifications, which he denies.

The same prosecutor’s office that enforced these convictions ended up throwing out most of them. However, the Brooklyn District Attorney has held his own in many other cases the detective has worked on.

For the first time, prosecutors are retrying one of those cases from a long time ago “This defendant is still guilty,” prosecutor Chow Yun Xie said at the retrial of Eliseo DeLeon, who pleaded not guilty. DeLeon’s murder conviction was overturned in 2019 after spending 24 years behind bars.

With a verdict due August 31, the new trial illustrates the fine line Brooklyn prosecutors have walked through a decade of questioning the work of a star detective. Scarcella worked on murders that grew to more than 2,200 a year across the city in 1990.

Last year it was fewer than 500 After retiring in 1999, he told “Dr. Phil” shows that he “did whatever the law required him to do” to obtain confessions or cooperation.

“The bad guys don’t play by the rules when they kill Mom and Dad,” he said. I don’t play by the rules, but I do follow the ethical rules and the Brooklyn rules of the arrest. 30 people after individual examinations. (Also, 90 drug convictions were dropped en masse on police corruption charges unrelated to Scarcella.

So far, 17 people have been effectively acquitted in cases involving Scarcella when prosecutors overturned convictions or dismissed new trials after judges overturned guilty verdicts.

Two other cases, including DeLeon’s, have had convictions vacated but prosecutors are struggling to restore them. Prosecutors have also concluded that the convictions in dozens of other cases involving Scarcella should stand, although some defendants are trying to convince the courts otherwise.

The vacating or maintaining of the conviction is based on the facts of the individual case and takes into account prior knowledge of Scarcella’s conduct,” District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors say Scarcella and her partner played only a minor role in DeLeon’s case. And prosecutors emphasize that two eyewitnesses, the victim’s wife and a stranger, returned to court 27 years later to re-identify DeLeon as the murderer of victim Fausto Cordero.

“We were forced to re-submit this evidence,” prosecutors said. A tip led the police to DeLeon, then 18 years old.

Detective Stephen Chmil was put on the case and his partner Scarcella got involved. The level of participation is a key theme in the new study. Case records show that Scarcella accompanied Chmil and Detective Co-Chief Anthony Baker to arrest DeLeon.

When DeLeon was taken to a police station, he said he was out of town when the shooting occurred. At the police station, Scarcella was present when DeLeon was read his rights, the paperwork shows.

But there is controversy over whether the detective took part in an interrogation that police and prosecutors say resulted in a documented confession in a few short sentences.

DeLeon says the detectives made it up. When Baker and some prosecutors later turned on a video camera, DeLeon asked for an attorney to “make sure my situation is correct.” I’m not going to go and be a fool and record myself and say I did something I didn’t do.

he said in the video that jurors couldn’t see at his first trial.

Scarcella testified last month that she does not remember the case but believes she was not present at the interrogation, although Baker said Scarcella was there but said nothing and Chmil said his partner don’t be the one who is silent.

Lawyers don’t believe Scarcella was a supporting player. “Everything in this case was spoiled by Scarcella and Chmil,” defense attorney Cary London said in a summary last month.

He argued that the confession was fabricated and that the identification of Witnesses was obtained inaccurately and questionably. Xie said the case “withstood the test of time” and the focus on Scarcella and Chmil was misplaced.

The verdict rests with Judge Dena Douglas, who is hearing the case without a jury. Scarcella and Chmil, also retired, have spent years defending their investigations while court hearings and the news have shredded their cases.

His lawyers say investigators used techniques that are legal and stand today, and that prosecutors have approved each murder arrest and reviewed all evidence.

“Detectives have been working diligently to apprehend the correct perpetrator and to support their work,” said attorneys Alan Abramson and Joel Cohen in a statement to AP.

At DeLeon’s retrial, Scarcella made it clear that he has no doubts about himself.

“Did you pride yourself on being a good homicide detective in the ’80s and ’90s?” asked London. “I still do,” Scarcella said.


 

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