Posts Tagged ‘defense attorney’

Jury Convicts PA Trooper of Murdering His Girlfriend’s Husband

March 22, 2009

In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007 file image from video released by the AP

INDIANA, Pa. – A suspended Pennsylvania State Trooper faces life in prison after a jury convicted him in the bloody slashing death of a dentist who was divorcing the lawman’s live-in girlfriend.

The jury found Trooper Kevin Foley, 43, guilty of a single count of first-degree murder, returning the verdict at 10 p.m. Wednesday after six hours of deliberations.

Foley, of Indiana, Pa., was the last witness the jury heard, taking the stand Wednesday to say he was only joking when he told colleagues he wished for Dr. John Yelenic’s death.

Prosecutors said Foley stopped at Yelenic’s home after a hockey game and slashed him with a knife before slamming his head through a window, leaving the dentist to bleed to death in his Blairsville home on April 13, 2006

“John has his justice tonight,” said Yelenic’s cousin, Mary Ann Clark, who was crying after the verdict was read.

Yelenic, 39, was killed a day before he was to sign papers finalizing the divorce from his wife, Michele, who was living with Foley. The couple’s separation was so rancorous that Yelenic’s attorney asked a judge to issue a posthumous divorced decree — saying Yelenic would have wanted it — but the judge refused, saying she couldn’t legally end a marriage that was terminated with Yelenic’s death.

Foley’s attorney said he’ll appeal.

“We’re very disappointed with the verdict,” said defense attorney Jeffrey Monzo. “We still believe Kevin is innocent. We will press forward.”

Foley has been on unpaid suspension since his arrest in September 2007. He will be formally sentenced June 1, but the first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory life sentence without parole.

In his testimony Wednesday, Foley flatly denied killing Yelenic and explained that he was only “joking” when he told other troopers, who had testified earlier in the trial, he wished the man would die.

Asked by his other defense attorney, Richard Galloway, if he “in any manner, at any time, with any instrumentality” caused Yelenic’s death, Foley said, “No, sir, I did not.”

“Are you innocent?” Galloway asked.

“Yes, sir, I am innocent,” Foley said.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Anthony Krastek had introduced testimony that DNA found under Yelenic’s fingernails was likely from Foley and that bloody shoe prints at the scene matched a pair Foley was known to wear at the time.

Krastek questioned Foley about testimony by other troopers who said he talked about wishing for Yelenic’s death. One trooper testified that Foley asked for his help to kill Yelenic.

Foley acknowledged that he didn’t like Yelenic, but said he was a practical joker and had made the comments in jest.

“Is it funny when you asked … that you wanted help killing John Yelenic?” Krastek said. “What’s so funny about that? Tell me the joke.”

“There isn’t any joke,” Foley replied. “It’s just my personality, my behavior.”

Foley was led from the courtroom in handcuffs and remains jailed pending his formal sentencing.

Ex-FBI agent convicted of S. Calif. robbery plot

March 18, 2009

By AMY TAXIN, Associated Press Writer via Yahoo! News

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A jury convicted a former FBI agent and another man of plotting to rob a drug stash house in Southern California using a machine gun.

The verdict was read Wednesday after jurors reached their decision late Tuesday in the trial of 44-year-old Vo Duong Tran, a former agent from New Orleans.

Tran and Yu Sung Park, 36, were arrested in July and accused of planning to rob what they thought was a drug stash house in the Orange County city of Fountain Valley. The site was actually part of an FBI sting operation.

“I think it’s disappointing that (Tran) is a former agent and he turned to this kind of conduct,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Keenan said. “He and Mr. Park were dangerous people.”

Tran’s wife, Nia Bui, held the couple’s 1-year-old son on her lap and sobbed loudly while the verdict was read. Outside the courtroom, Bui said she believes her husband was set up by the FBI.

“He’s a good father, he’s a good person. He’d never kill people or rob,” she said. “I can’t believe they do this to him. They break families like this.”

During the trial, prosecutors played recorded conversations in which men they identified as Park and Tran were discussing whether to shoot residents of the drug house.

Jurors deliberated for a day before convicting the defendants of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by robbery, interstate travel to commit a crime with a firearm, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime and possession of a machine gun. Each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison at sentencing, set for June 15.

Tran was an FBI agent in Chicago for more than a decade before being fired in 2003. Defense attorney Alex Kessel previously said Tran was fired for identifying himself as an agent while on suspension, though he was never convicted of the allegation.

Telephone messages left Wednesday for Kessel and attorney Brian Steel, who also represents Tran, were not immediately returned.

The arrests of Tran and Park followed a federal probe in which conversations between Tran and an FBI informant were secretly taped for nearly six months.

Authorities said Tran flew from New Orleans to raid the home, where the informant had told him there was $300,000.

Authorities said they found a machine gun, rifle equipped with a silencer, handguns, bulletproof vests, fatigues, zip ties, black ski mask and more than 600 rounds of ammunition in a rental car and hotel room the men used.

Defense attorneys said Tran was passionate about his law enforcement career and was playing along with the robbery scheme to gather evidence on informant Alex Dao so he could turn him over to authorities.

Yolanda Barrera, Park’s attorney, said it was hard to understand how the jury could seriously consider the massive amount of evidence and testimony in just a day. “This was a four-week trial and the jury basically deliberated for five hours,” she said.

(This version corrects that although decision was announced Wednesday the jury reached it late Tuesday.)