Staten Island Has a Turkey Overpopulation ProblemEdward Albee is being used to market a condo, a cat-beating sicko lurks the streets of Queens, and Staten Island turkeys are being given mandatory abortions. The city’s gone mad, in our daily boroughs report.
Sean Bell’s Friends Shed More Light on His Final MomentsAs witness testimony in the Sean Bell trial continues, new details provide some clarification and more questions about the young man’s last night. Bell’s friends Larenzo Kinred and Hugh Jensen took the stand today to explain what they remembered about that evening outside of Club Kalua. According to the Times, they corroborated accounts by police officers that Bell had gotten into an argument with a man dressed in black who seemed to have a gun. The cops say that the altercation is what led them to believe that Bell and his friends might have been getting into the car to perform a drive-by shooting, but Kindred and Jensen say the fight wasn’t so serious — both weren’t even distracted from their pursuit of women they had met in the club. They also said they had seen two white men inside the club and assumed they were cops. There is still much debate over whether or not Bell and his friends knew white police officer Michael Oliver was a cop when he approached them in their car. Prosecutors have said that they did not, and that they tried to speed away because they were afraid they were getting carjacked. For more of what we know about that fateful evening, see Robert Kolker’s piece in this week’s New York.
Friends of Bell Describe Argument Outside Club [NYT]
Related: A Bad Night at Club Kalua [NYM]
Chris Smith: Tony Ricco’s Racial PoliticsIt’s textbook defense-lawyer strategy: dirty up the victim. And, yesterday, during opening arguments at the Sean Bell trial, the tactic was on full display, as the man who died in a hail of 50 NYPD bullets took a few more blows, this time to his reputation and character. Totally predictable, cringe-inducing — and entirely necessary if you’re defending the detectives who killed a seemingly defenseless man hours away from his wedding. What makes the argument far more interesting, and potentially more powerful, is the defense lawyer who’s using it. Anthony Ricco is one of the city’s most gifted defense attorneys. He also happens to be black and Muslim, and he favors fedoras and eyeglasses straight from the Malcolm X catalogue. While Ricco’s race helps mute the blue-versus-black story line and regularly draws him taunts from simplistic racial demagogues like councilman Charles Barron, the attitude Ricco deploys on behalf of his vilified clients is fascinatingly complicated.
in other news
Linda Stein Could Not Have Blown Pot Smoke in Natavia Lowery’s FaceAn autopsy on the body of real-estate broker Linda Stein, who was allegedly killed by her assistant Natavia Lowery at the end of October, has revealed that there was no marijuana in her system at the time of her death. This rips a hole in Lowery’s defense strategy, as she has claimed she was driven into a rage after Stein yelled at her and repeatedly blew marijuana smoke into her face. It was that incensed rage, Lowery said, that led her to shatter Stein’s skull with a yoga bar. But police sources told the Post that even a small amount of marijuana would have showed up in her system, and the toxicological tests on Stein’s body, completed last week, revealed nothing. (Lawyers for Lowery say that she “made things up to get out of the interrogation room,” including the marijuana-smoke story, and even the murder confession.) This is good news for prosecutors, who are trying to build up a narrative that Lowery had been using her boss’ credit cards and bank accounts and killed her when she was caught. But it raises the question: Why did it take over three months for toxicology reports to come in on her death and just ten days for Heath Ledger’s? Not that we’re surprised that his got rushed through after all the public scrutiny, but that’s an awfully big time difference. We fully expect an offensive Sean Delonas cartoon about this matter in “Page Six” tomorrow, most likely involving some bodyguards pushing around some wimpy gay forensic scientists, at the orders of a skeletal Mary-Kate Olsen.
SLAY EXCUSE BLOWN [NYP]
in other news
The ‘Post’ Still in the Anger Stage of Dealing With Heath Ledger’s DeathWe are still several days away from finding out results of the toxicology reports being done on Heath Ledger’s body, but the New York Post is still having trouble with the fact that, as yet, there is no one to blame. Last week, we were surprised at all of the heat they brought on Mary-Kate Olsen. They put her face on the cover and claimed she was to be questioned by police (they stand by the story, but cops are now saying they won’t be speaking with the actress). Olsen is involved, as even your golden retriever must know by now, because the masseuse who found Ledger’s body mysteriously called her before calling 911. Olsen sent in her bodyguards rather than calling the police. After we and other Websites like Gawker.com pointed out the contradiction between the paper’s story and what police were saying, we were e-mailed with a blusterous comment from Post editor Col Allan, which implied that the police were “afraid” of Olsen and that’s why they wouldn’t question her. Then, they followed up on Saturday with a photo-free cover, which asked “WHY” the police weren’t questioning Olsen. There was an interior editorial that day explaining that the tabloid was receiving “dark communications” from Olsen’s lawyers, threatening them.
in other news
Heath Ledger: Covering the Coverage (Updated)Today’s coverage of Heath’s Ledger’s death doesn’t answer many more of the questions that his fans are asking one another. Police are no longer touting suicide as the cause, and his family has declared it was an accident. Looking through the stories, blog posts, and online videos, though, provides a telling peek into the way the actor affected people, and how no one quite knows how to handle his death.
• According to some police sources, Heath’s ex-girlfriend Michelle Williams kicked him out of their shared Brooklyn home because of a drug problem “that got worse after he left.” Williams, the mother of their 2-year-old child, Matilda, has said she is “devastated.” [NYDN]
• The masseuse who discovered the body didn’t first call the police; she called the actress Mary-Kate Olsen, another client. Olsen told her to immediately call the authorities. [PageSix.com]
in other news
Imette St. Guillen’s Killer Worked As Cop Informant?It turns out that the turmoil over the violent death of Imette St. Guillen isn’t quite over. Radar reports that her killer, Darryl Littlejohn, was actually a police informant who may have kept himself out of jail by helping cops in a drug case. Littlejohn was a career criminal who hashed out the deal with the Nassau County District Attorney’s office after getting indicted on armed robbery charges in 1997. In 1998 his testimony helped convict several drug dealers in federal court. In early 2006, he is accused of grabbing 24-year-old St. Guillen from outside of the Falls, a Soho bar where he worked as a bouncer, and later raping, torturing, and murdering her. While Littlejohn is currently cooling his heels in Rikers awaiting trial, we suspect the tabloids will get all heated up over this new development in the next few days.
College Student’s Alleged Killer Actually a Police Informant [Radar]
Related: Last Call [NYM]