Robbery Trial Ends in Acquittal Jury Acquits Man Of Armed Robbery

Jury Acquits Man Of Armed Robbery
By A. Anthony Miller Nassau Lawyer

Plaintiff and defendants told two different stories to a Nassau County jury over a nine-day robbery trial earlier this month, but it took only 20 minutes for jurors to return a verdict of not guilty.

The case thwarts the Nassau County District Attorney's stated goal of bringing virtually every case to a positive conclusion.

The plaintiff claims that he was walking to his home in Freeport after having dinner with friends on the night of February 16, 1999. One man put a gun to his head; the other stuck a knife to his side and they demanded his money. After he told them he had no money, they forcibly took him down a driveway into a deserted parking lot.

At that moment, an unmarked police car pulled up. The victim saw one of the men throw something over a fence. He immediately reported an armed robbery.

The police officer testified that while on patrol, he saw two black males forcibly escorting a male hispanic to a parking lot. He saw neither a gun nor a knife but didn't have enough light to see everything. It looked to him like a robbery. He pulled up to them, held the suspects at gunpoint as the alleged victim reported a robbery, and waited for back up. He also observed the defendant's car with no one in it. A detective testified that he searched the area the victim pointed to and found a pellet gun, which looked exactly like a real gun. The knife was not recovered. A fingerprint check was inconclusive.

Defendants Rashaan Davis and Lamont Jones tell a different story. They say that they pulled their car into the parking lot to go to the bathroom. Davis then went to the corner where there was a pay phone to return a page from his fiancé. That's when he says he bumped into a male hispanic with a red bandanna. Words were exchanged and fearing the male hispanic was in a gang, Davis called for Jones. The defendants then forcibly escorted the complainant to the parking lot, just to get him off the corner, because he was making a scene. They were going to leave him there and get in their car just as the police drove up. Davis testified that he saw the male hispanic do something by the fence, but he didn't see what he did.

The defense argued that the gun belonged to the complainant, theorizing that since he was an illegal alien who could be deported for having a hand gun, he threw it away and made up the story of the robbery because he was angry at the way the defendants were bullying him.

Defendant Davis admitted that he has been previously convicted of two other armed robberies. The jury learned the details of these prior robberies.

The defense also argued that the victim was intoxicated. The police insisted that the victim was, at the most, slightly intoxicated. The defense also contended that the police officer's observations were consistent with the defense, but he never saw a gun to anyone's head.

Both defendants were on parole at the time of the incident. They each faced 15 years, plus two more for the parole violation. The case was tried before Judge Abbey Boklan. The jury deliberated for about 20 minutes -- before returning verdicts of not guilty for each charge: attempted robbery in the first degree and two counts of attempted robbery in the second degree.

Defense attorney Ernest Peace represented Rashaan Davis. William Petrillo represented Lamont Jones.

Bill Petrillo and Ernie Peace Win Acquittals By Richard Barbuto Nassau Criminal Courts Bar Association Newsletter

In a case tried before Judge Boklan, Bill Petrillo and Ernie Peace won acquittals for their clients wherein both defendants were Predicate Violent Felony Offenders on parole who faced 15 years if convicted.

Cross examination of the complaining witness revealed that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the alleged robbery and cross examination of the arresting officer revealed flaws in his ability to observe.

Despite a Sandoval ruling, which allowed the prosecution to question the defendants about prior robbery convictions and the underlying facts of the robberies, one of the defendants testified.

The defense theory of the case was that the defendants had merely picked on the complaining witness and that he concocted the story of the robbery because he was mad at them.

The jury acquitted in 20 minutes.

Our Team Leaders Among the Criminal Defense Bar

Achievements

Honors & Awards
  • President New York Criminal Bar Association 2015-Present.
  • Listed in 2016 Super Lawyers, New York Metro.
  • Listed in 2015 Super Lawyers, New York Metro.
  • Listed in 2014 National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Layers.
  • Rated by Avvo 10.0 Superb.
  • Avvo Clients’ Choice 2014-Present, Criminal Defense.
  • Appointed on Homicide Panel, Appellate Division, First Department, in March 2012-Present.
  • Appointed on Criminal Justice Act Panel, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York 2016.
  • Awarded Citation of Honor in September 2011 by New York State Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya for exemplary service through the practice of criminal defense.
  • Recognized in April 2011 by the Board of Directors of New York’s Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
  • Received Proclamation of Honor in 2010 by New York State Senator Jose Peralta for accomplishments in the profession of criminal defense and extraordinary contributions to the community.
  • Recognized in VerdictSearch’s Top New York Verdicts of 2010 for $1.9 million verdict following a jury trial in Queens Supreme Court.
  • Received Recognition of Honor in 2009 by New York’s Comite Fiestas Patrias Mexican-American organization for humanitarian actions and invaluable service in the field of criminal defense.
  • Awarded Citation of Honor in 2009, by President of the Borough of Queens, Hon. Helen M. Marshall, for outstanding leadership and work in the area of criminal defense.

 

COURTS OF ADMISSIONS
  • Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • United States Supreme Court
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the District of Colorado



Testimonials

"As District Attorney of Nassau County for 31 years and a former federal prosecutor, I have encountered some of the best criminal defense attorney’s in New York State. The hallmark of a truly phenomenal criminal lawyer is the ability to be both a great trial lawyer and a strong negotiator, while maintaining credibility at all times. William Petrillo possesses these skills. He has earned a stellar reputation within the legal community as an outstanding, gifted trial attorney. Always a gentleman, honest and ethical, Mr. Petrillo is a fierce, persuasive litigator and a tough, fair negotiator. I would unequivocally recommend him to anyone in need of a criminal lawyer."

Honorable Denis Dillon - Former District Attorney, Nassau County and Former Federal Prosecutor

"If I or a loved one ever need the services of a criminal defense attorney, Bill Petrillo is the one I would count on for representation. No higher praise can be given to a fellow lawyer. Mr. Petrillo not only possesses excellent trial skills, but is also skillful at negotiating favorable dispositions for his clients. He treats everyone he encounters with respect and has earned the respect of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel. He is passionately devoted to his clients and constantly thinking of ways to benefit them. Finally, he is scrupulously honest and ethical while fighting tirelessly for the people he represents."

Fred B. Klein - Retired, Chief of Homicide, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office - Retired Attorney General

"Both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, Bill Petrillo tried many cases in front of me in Nassau County Court. He won just about every one of those trials. When an attorney constantly wins trials it means that jurors respect him. When jurors respect an attorney they will listen to him, will follow his line of reasoning and give serious consideration to his various arguments. To get jurors to that point the attorney must project honesty, must balance fairness with understanding for all involved, have an absolute knowledge of the facts of the case and the applicable law, and he must be able to create an atmosphere of mutual respect with the judge. Bill Petrillo possesses all of these qualities."

Honorable Donald DeRiggi - Retired, Nassau County Court Judge

"As a prosecuting attorney for almost 30 years, I have observed many trial lawyers. Of the few that I judged to be excellent, only one was uniquely skilled in all of the qualities that contribute to tremendous success in the courtroom. His name is Bill Petrillo. A brilliant strategist who leaves no stone unturned, Bill has a rare natural gift for trying cases. He is a passionate lawyer and has won cases that were considered unwinnable."

James Watson - Retired Deputy Bureau Chief, Nassau County District Attorney's Office and Former Federal Prosecutor

"Bill Petrillo is a giant in the criminal defense community. Time and again I have observed him fearlessly battle the government, negotiate extraordinary plea deals, obtain the dismissal of indictments or acquittals after trial. He regards his clients as family and tries to protect them accordingly."

Kevin T. Kearon, Esq. - Past President, Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County

"As a judge, I presided over felony cases for ten years. Bill Petrillo appeared before me on many occasions. He is as tenacious and talented an attorney as I ever encountered. Bill is an extraordinary advocate and I would strongly recommend him."

Honorable Victor M. Ort - Retired Nassau County Judge

"Bill Petrillo is a relentless super-talent with incredible drive, focus and work ethic. He has a razor sharp mind and is lightning quick on his feet. Bill is as powerful, energetic and persuasive in the courtroom as any lawyer I have ever seen."

Michael S. Lamonsoff, Esq. - Board of Directors New York State Trial Lawyers Association and Member of New York State Ethics Committee

"Mr. Petrillo is one of the most talented, hard working, compassionate, ethical and moral individuals I have ever known."

J.H.

" Mr. Petrillo is a miracle worker. When faced with a situation that others told me was all but impossible to be resolved in a tolerable manner, Mr. Petrillo did the impossible. Throughout the whole process he was knowledgeable, honest, available, and incredibly professional. Having first gone to other highly recommended lawyers I was able to get a sense of different types of attorneys. Not only was the outcome something that the other attorneys couldn't dream of, but Mr. Petrillo's personality and general demeanor was miles beyond the others. In an incredibly trying time he was calming. But while he was pleasant to deal with personally, he also is incredibly fierce in the courtroom. You get the sense that what he does is not just his job, but his passion. There is nobody I would trust more."

Z.K.

"I was under state and federal investigation for multiple potential charges in a year long investigation. The first lawyer I consulted with suggested we go to the US Attorneys office, cooperate and agree to a quick plea, despite my telling him I had done nothing wrong. Shortly after that consultation I was given Mr. Petrillo's name from a friend who knew a criminal court Judge. It became obvious to me during my first meeting with Bill that his level of knowledge and expertise was far superior than my original lawyer. He had a completely different analysis of my case and the best course of action to take. Ten months later, without me ever speaking to law enforcement, eleven people were arrested. I was never prosecuted and will be forever grateful to William Petrillo."

M.O.

"Not only are you a phenomenal and brilliant lawyer, you are an amazing human being and we are grateful to know you on any level. Thank you for everything."

Z.K.

" Mr. Petrillo is a miracle worker. When faced with a situation that others told me was all but impossible to be resolved in a tolerable manner, Mr. Petrillo did the impossible. Throughout the whole process he was knowledgeable, honest, available, and incredibly professional. Having first gone to other highly recommended lawyers I was able to get a sense of different types of attorneys. Not only was the outcome something that the other attorneys couldn't dream of, but Mr. Petrillo's personality and general demeanor was miles beyond the others. In an incredibly trying time he was calming. But while he was pleasant to deal with personally, he also is incredibly fierce in the courtroom. You get the sense that what he does is not just his job, but his passion. There is nobody I would trust more."

S.E.

"Bill and his staff treated me with kindness and respect and the utmost professionalism which is very important when you are facing the uneasiness of criminal prosecution. Besides having a very impressive track record in the courtroom, it was apparent to me and my family that Bill is highly respected and well-liked by judges, lawyers and prosecuting attorneys. He was able to negotiate a great outcome in my case. If I opted to go to trial, there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Bill was the man I wanted by my side. For a man who makes no promises, he sure delivers."

R.M.

"I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with William Petrillo when I was facing multiple felony charges. From our first meeting I felt Bill's passion for under taking whatever was necessary to insure that I receive proper representation. He is endowed with an extraordinary talent for understanding the client's fears and concerns while offering honest and straight forward information and advice. Mr. Petrillo is one of the hardest working people I ever met. He kept me fully informed as to the process and progress of my case. Finally, as opposed to many other attorneys who are not court experienced; Mr. Petrillo shined in court. His presentation of the details of my case held the courtroom captive. Not only did everyone come to understand the complications of the situation, but, more importantly, the resolution of the case reflected the hard work, diligence and devotion to his client. It is my great pleasure to recommend Mr. William S. Petrillo."

A.M.

"About a year and a half ago I ran into some legal trouble and needed legal representation. My wife's cousin is a corporate lawyer and she referred us to William Petrillo. Having never been on the wrong side of the law, I didn't know what to expect. I also didn't know if this would affect my employment status. I had a laundry list of concerns and questions. After my first consultation with Bill, he immediately struck me as personable, professional, confident and honest. He told me what all of my options were and also gave me his personal opinion. My best interest was always his primary concern. He always reiterated that no matter what legal avenue I chose to go down, he was in my corner 100%. I felt extremely confident that I had the chosen the right guy. And I definitely did. From the first court appearance right up to my last, Bill and his associate, Karen Bobley, always put their best foot forward. They never wanted to settle for anything less than what I had hoped for. At the end of my court proceedings, I did get the outcome I was looking for, and my friends and co-workers could not believe that it was possible, under the circumstances. I owe it all to Bill and his team. Whenever I needed legal documentation, for work or other purposes, Jennifer, Bill's office manager, was always on top of things. Jennifer would call me the day before any court appearances, as a reminder, and also give me the heads up on what would happen at that appearance. Whenever I had questions, Jennifer usually had an answer and if she didn't, Bill would, personally, return my call by the end of the day. Words do not truly describe the high level of service I received. Bill and company made a very stressful situation very manageable and I am forever grateful. Not only is Bill a great lawyer, but he's a wonderful person. And that's what separates him from the rest. So,if you ever find yourself in a legal bind, don't take chances or try to cut corners. Protect yourself and go with one of the best, William Petrillo."

O.W.