Case Conclusion Date:July 10, 2008
Practice Area:Violent Crime
Outcome:Acquitted of Murder convicted of Manslaughter 2
Description:On October 3, 2006 Ronald "Shorty" Rodriguez used a shotgun to scare off a bully drug dealer named Bilah McGraw. McGraw by his own admission was one of the leading members of the notorious Terror Avenue Posse, (TAP) which was a violent Street gang dealing drugs on Terrace Ave. in Hempstead NY, (The largest town population in America) On Oct 3 2006 A "dusted" (high on Angel Dust aka PCP) McGraw and his lieutant Travis Drew came looking to rob Mr. Rodrieguez because he had been selling cocaine in TAP territory. When he saw them coming for him Shorty ran into an alley way to get a way and found out that there was another TAP gunman waiting for him. He turned and grabbed a shotgun that the unaffiliated dealers on the block used for protection, and ran back toward the street to hopefully scare McGraw and Drew off. The ruse almost worked when Drew ran off, but McGraw, probably due to the effects of the Angel Dust, grabbed for the gun and tried to attack Shorty with the butt. During the scuffle, the gun fired and blew a 2.5" by 5" hole into the chest of McGraw blowing out the bottom portion of his heart and causing instantaneous death. Mr. Rodriguez took off and was on the lam for 11 months when he was apprehended by authorities. At the trial, Mr. Rodriguez was charged with Murder in the Second degree: Intentional Murder. He was offered a plea to the charge and 20 years to plead guilty. Our team put together a successful defense convincing the jury that there was no Intentional Murder or Intentional Manslaughter. The jury convicted the defendant after a month's trial and 2 days of diliberations of Manslaughter in the 2d degree a non-violent non intentional crime. Private investigator Rick Arden spoke to nearly every witness and developed other witnesses who could put some sense to the case and the theory of the Government's case (The state argued that McGraw and Drew were merely walking up the street to buy some marijuana, that Shorty shot McGraw because Shorty was "dissed" by him earlier in the evening.) Firearms Expert Jerry Petillo helped form a voir dire that kept the People's firearm expert from being declared an expert, and taught Colleluori the workings of Firearm and Toolmark identification. Dr. Mark Taff helped craft the cross-examination of the People's coroner helping to turn his testimony to shreads and attacking the coroner on his complete lack of experience. The Assistant District Attorney mounted a spirited prosecution but it came undone thanks to the superior investigation and tough cross-examinations by the defense. At the end of two days of diliberations, the jury of 6 men and 6 women, acquitted Shorty of both intentional crimes (Murder 2* and Manslaughter 1*) both violent felony offenses with top sentences of Life and 25 years in prison respectively and convicted the defendant in a compromise verdict of Manslaughter 2 a non violent offense with a minimum of 5 years max of 15 and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 3*. The verdict was a clear success for the defense.