Rhodes case declared mistrial

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Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak declared a mistrial last Thursday in the case of a Long Island City man accused of beating and robbing two elderly women after a jury forewoman complained she had missed too much work during the month−long trial and needed to leave Friday to visit her mother, the Queens district attorney’s office said.

“The jurors said they would not be able to reach a verdict even if they came back on Friday,” said Helen Peterson, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office. “It’s up to the judge’s discretion to declare a mistrial if he thinks there is a deadlocked jury.”

Jurors had been deliberating on Dec. 10.

Defense attorney Paul Montgomery, who asked for a mistrial, had previously said he believed the trial was unfair because the court had “prejudged” his client, Jack Rhodes, 46. Montgomery had complained that Lasak unfairly allowed the prosecution to bring forward more witnesses than the defense.

Assistant District Attorney Dianna Megias has blamed defense attorneys for intentionally prolonging the trial by asking for three days to prepare Rhodes to testify and then announcing Rhodes would not testify.

No date has been set for another trial for Rhodes, who is accused of beating and robbing 102−year−old Rose Morat, of Jamaica Estates; 87−year−old Solange Elizee, of Jamaica; and 53−year−old Angela Khan, also of Jamaica.

Rhodes allegedly attacked Morat and Elizee in March 2007 and Khan in December 2007. He was facing up to 25 years in prison if he had been found guilty on the 35 counts of burglary, assault and robbery with which he was charged.

According to the police, Rhodes robbed and beat Morat and Elizee within hours of each other on March 4, 2007.

The DA has alleged that Morat, 101 at the time of the attacks, was leaving the elevator at her apartment building when Rhodes offered to open the front door for her. The defendant then allegedly repeatedly punched Morat on the left side of her face, causing her to fall to the ground. Rhodes made off with her purse, which had $33 in it, according to Brown.

Morat, who uses a walker, suffered a broken cheekbone.

Rhodes punched Elizee in the face and stole $45 and jewelry, police said.

Khan said that after Rhodes allegedly mugged her and beat her to the point that she suffered a fractured nose and two black eyes and needed six stitches for cuts to her face, it has been nearly impossible for her to feel comfortable alone.

“I can’t go to the basement by myself,” Khan said during the trial. “My husband does my laundry because I’m scared to be alone.”

According to Morat’s physician, who testified during the trial, the 102−year−old woman has never been the same since the attack.

“Rose is not the same Rose I knew,” Dr. Gabriel DeAngelis told Megias during the trial. “She has become more anxious …. Before she was a medical marvel. She was active. She enjoyed functions and being with people. Now she has gotten more reclusive. She is no longer a free spirit.”

Queens elected officials expressed outrage after the attacks, which sparked a state bill sponsored by state Sens. Serphin Maltese (R−Glendale) and Frank Padavan (R−Bellerose) that would give a seven−year prison sentence to those convicted of attacking seniors 60 years and over.

The bill never made it to the floor of the state Assembly.

Updated 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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