Brooklyn District Attorney to Testify in Murder Appeal on Undisclosed Evidence
A senior homicide attorney in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office will be questioned on Tuesday about his role in the failure to deliver a key document in a 2006 murder case that sent a man to jail for 15 years and more.
Howard Jackson, the deputy chief of homicides in the prosecutor’s office, will speak at an unusual hearing in the case of Ronnie Wright, who is seeking to have his conviction overturned. Wright, who is not eligible for parole until 2044, says he is innocent.
Wright was convicted on August 7, 2006 of the murder of Andrell Napper in a gang on Throop Avenue outside the Sumner Houses, largely thanks to the claims of a single eyewitness. Jackson was the senior prosecutor in the 2008 trial.
Wright’s attorneys, however, learned in 2018 that Demetrius Morris, a member of a violent Brooklyn gang called G’z Up, told an FBI agent and two NYPD detectives two months after the murder that Wright was not. not involved.
2006 statement held, Wright’s attorneys allege, “knowingly and willfully,” to conceal the existence of an ongoing joint NYPD-FBI investigation into G’z Up and other gangs operating in the Marcy Houses , Tompkins and Sumner.
“Police and prosecutors think it’s huge – ‘We’re going to take these gangs out’ – but my guy got run over,” said Robert Kerrigan, one of Wright’s attorneys.
“They were months away from the teardowns in this multi-year investigation when Wright’s trial took place. Evidence that the murder was gang-related would jeopardize their ongoing racketeering investigation, so they withheld that evidence. “
Wright only learned of the existence of the statement after Morris testified as a cooperating witness in the 2019 racketeering trial of gang leader G’z Up. In his testimony, Morris admitted that he was one of the shooters who killed Napper. He said he hadn’t seen Wright with a gun at all that night.
Kerrigan said prosecutors also withheld evidence of a close connection between their key witness, Valerie Smith, and Napper. Morris was never arrested although three other eyewitnesses named him as the shooter, Kerrigan said.
Wright insisted on his innocence from the start and testified before his own grand jury, something the defendants rarely do.
“The accused was implicated by an eyewitness, by a co-defendant who pleaded guilty to murder and by another accomplice. This man, Demetrius Morris, pointed out the implication of the accused and contradicted his alibi defense in his 2006 statements and 2019 testimony. We intend to continue to plead this case in court ”, said a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.
In his first attempts at appeal, Wright represented himself, but these legal efforts failed.
His fortunes began to turn in 2018 as the trial of gang leader G’Z Up approached.
Further searches revealed that on October 17, 2006, Morris met FBI Special Agent Anthony Grubisic and NYPD detectives Christopher Hennigan and George Harvey. During the interview, Morris admitted that Wright was not one of the killers.
Hennigan is expected to speak on Tuesday.
The bomb prompted lawyers for Wright, Kerrigan, John O’Hara and Dennis Kelly to file a motion to quash the conviction.
Julie Clark, Wright’s attorney at the initial trial, signed an affidavit in which she swore prosecutors did not provide Morris’s statement and also concealed the existence of the entire FBI-NYPD investigation .
Officials at the prosecutor’s office first told Judge Ruth Shillingford that they could not find Morris’s statement.
Wright’s relatives hope his conviction will be overturned.
“I always told Ronnie that what was done in darkness will be revealed in the light,” said Lynetta Wright, her first cousin and pastor at All People’s Church in Brooklyn. “They can’t hold you that long because the facts are going to come out.”