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Federal Judge Wants Death Penalty Guarantee From Holder
By Stephanie Woodrow | April 6, 2022 11:44 am

A federal judge on Tuesday said he will not move forward on a case unless Attorney General Eric Holder can guarantee that federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty, the New York Post reported.

Nicholas Garaufis (File)

Nicholas Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York has stopped the second penalty phase trial against Ronell Wilson.

Wilson was convicted of murdering New York Police Department detectives Rodney Andrews and James Nemorin in 2003 during a undercover gun buy-and-bust operation. He was sentenced to death.

However, last summer the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals court overturned the sentence because of mistakes by federal prosecutors. The court decided 2-1 that federal prosecutors violated Wilson’s constitutional rights by citing his refusal to testify under oath when he told jurors he was “truly sorry” for the pain he caused, the Post reported. While the Justice Department could have appealed the decision to Supreme Court, it didn’t.

In the second penalty phase trial, federal prosecutors already have indicated they intend to seek the death penalty, the Post reported.

However, that isn’t good enough for Garaufis.

On Tuesday, Garaufis said, “We won’t go forward with this case unless I receive a letter from Mr. Holder that he intends to seek the death penalty.” He added that he wants to hear from Holder “because the attorney general failed to exhaust his appeals all the way to the [U.S.] Supreme Court and, in effect, abandoned the appeal on this case.”

Garaufis said he wants the letter from Holder “in view of the fact that the Attorney General failed to exhaust all appeals and abandoned the appeal of the case.”

He added that he was “deeply concerned” about the effect a second penalty phase trial might have on relatives of the victims.

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