Long time readers of this blog know that during the early days I tried to write down my recollections on finding that a friend had been assaulted on the streets of Queens in August of 2001 and subsequently passed away from the injuries a few days before 9/11. 35 year old Eddie Garzon had apparently been the victim of a brutal gay bashing.
Two years ago 38 year old John L. McGhee was arrested by police as he stepped out of a plane from London. He was charged in Garzon's murder and was taken to court.
Stunningly, despite testimony from a star witness who said he had been with McGhee on the night of the attack and observed the beating, the trial ended in a mistrial (it should be said, though, that by all accounts, witness Christopher Ricalde's testimony did contain some inconsistencies).
The Queens Distric Attorney's Office promised at the time to bring McGhee back to court for a second trial.
This week I spoke to a reporter from El Diario La Prensa who is writing an article on the new trial for this Sunday's paper. She also interviewed Eddie's parents.
But even as the new trial is slated to begin next month, I was stunned today when Duncan Osborne at Gay City News alerted me to an article just posted online ("Witness Lost in Gay Murder Case"). Osborbe reports that Ricalde can't be found and will probably not testify at the new trial.
Sharon Stapel, Executive Director the New York City Anti-Violence Project, told GCN that there was no way to predict the impact of the missing witness. "Obviously, at AVP we are happy that the district attorney's office is pursuing this case with all of the resources they've put behind it," she said.
But I can't help but feel angry that the Queens District Attorney's Office has lost track of what only could be considered as their star witness.
According to GCN, "Without Ricalde on the stand, a jury will hear [McGhee's attorney]'s original cross examination read from the transcript, but jurors will not see his potentially flawed testimony."
UPDATE: McGhee guilty of 2nd degree murder in killing of Edgar Garzon (Sept. 11, 2008)
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