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A Rockaway man convicted of killing his childhood friend more than 15 years ago who had been in prison for 13 years was set free by a Queens Supreme Court judge last week, although the Queens district attorney’s office derided the decision and claims the man is guilty.
Kareem Bellamy, 44, was convicted of murder in the April 1994 death of his friend, James Abbott, and sentenced to 25 years to life.
In 2008, pro-bono investigators representing Bellamy uncovered an audiotaped confession made by another man, who admitted to killing Abbott.
Based on that information, Bellamy was set free last Thursday by Queens Supreme Court Judge Joel Blumenfeld.
Bellamy, who indicated he would move to Virginia after he was released, could not be reached for comment.
The Queens DA’s office called the confession “an outright fraud,” claiming the man who made the confession, Michael Green, made up the admission in exchange for money from Bellamy’s pro-bono investigators.
“Mr. Bellamy has now been freed ... based on an outright fraud perpetrated by this court,” said Queens Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal. “He has not — I repeat — has not been exonerated. This is not a case of actual innocence. The sole basis for the vacatur of this defendant’s 15-year-old conviction by this court was the patently false testimony of Michael Green, a career criminal who received a substantial amount of money from the defense which induced his original hearing testimony and who admittedly told this court he had hoped to receive even more money in the future.”
Before Blumenfeld set Bellamy free, he said Bellamy could face a new trial based on the new evidence, but the DA’s office said it would not be able to prosecute the case and dismissed charges against the Rockaway man.
“The people cannot in good faith proceed with a subsequent prosecution for depraved indifference murder because we are legally prohibited from doing so,” Leventhal said. “Under the circumstances, the people have been left with no other choice but to move to dismiss this indictment against the defendant — again, not because he has been exonerated or because we believe him to be actually innocent, but because a continued prosecution is not legally sustainable.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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