On Monday, attorney Joel Rudin of New York, who is well-known for his battles against wrongful convictions alleged that a Queens district attorney’s office allowed a key eyewitness tell lies on the stand during a murder trial. Joel Rudin brought up the matter in a motion to vacate the 2000 murder conviction of Petros Bedi who was sentenced for 25 years to life for a murder in a club in Astoria, Queens over a drug debt.
Rudin claims that he has obtained witness relocation records that show that Queens prosecutors paid nearly $20,000 in hotel costs and expenses for a key eyewitness, but when the eyewitness, Koumpouras was questioned directly about the payments, he denied receiving any financial benefits from the DA’s office.
On Monday, the New York Times reported the matter.
Joel Rudin says the statement and acts of the eyewitness can cast a doubt on his testimony. Rudin also said that the Queen’s DA’s office knew that the eyewitness was lying but made no attempt to correct him.
Rudin now says he has a new witness who will testify that someone else committed the murder for which Petros Bedi was imprisoned. In an interview, Rudin said, “This is a case where a seasoned senior homicide prosecutor in the office committed a deliberate withholding of evidence and allowed a witness to testify falsely, uncorrected … It’s about the worst conduct a prosecutor can engage in.”
Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for the Queen’s DA’s office said that the eyewitness was not fluent in English and had often switched between his native Greek and English during the testimony. According to Ryan, a confusion could have arisen due to translation issues. However, Ryan admitted that the prosecutor who tried the case had “tried to have him clarify any confusion as to what the District Attorney’s Office paid for in regard to his lodging and other expenses.”
Ryan further said that the documents in relation to the travel and lodging of the eyewitness had been disclosed to the court before the trial began, and the defense had brought up the question of the payments during summations. The spokesman for the Queen’s DA’s office further said, “During the course of our conversation with Mr. Rudin, he was informed that we would seriously pursue any claim of innocence and thoroughly investigate such claims … However, he expressed no interest in having us do so. He made it clear that if we did not move to set aside the verdict, part of his strategy would be to go public with the allegations.”