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- 01.12.08, Associated Press: New Probe in 1988 Murders After Release >
New York Post
January 12, 2008 -- The Martin Tankleff case is not closed.
Less than two weeks after the Suffolk County district attorney announced all murder charges against Tankleff would be dropped, Gov. Spitzer appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case all over again.
Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has been named to probe the murders of Arlene and Seymour Tankleff, killed under mysterious circumstances inside their Belle Terre home in 1988.
Then-17-year-old Tankleff was arrested and charged with the murders, then sent to prison. His conviction was overturned by an appellate court in December, and he was freed from prison after 17 years.
DA Thomas Spota - who requested a special prosecutor be appointed - announced that next Friday all charges would be formally dropped.
That plan is now out the window.
“That's not going to happen," Cuomo told The Post yesterday. “The DA was going to do that, but this is no longer his case. All options are going to be preserved and no action will be taken until we've reviewed all the facts. We may very well arrive at the same conclusion that the DA did, but we have to do our own investigation."
Although Cuomo said “the main focus is who committed the murder," he said his office will look into the original investigation, and claims by Tankleff's lawyers that cops coerced a confession improperly, ignored evidence and did not investigate key suspects.
“Many things are possible," Cuomo said. “To the extent that there are legal and law enforcement lessons to learn from the entire matter, that could be part of this also."
Retired Detective K. James McCready - the lead man on the original investigation and the cop who admittedly lied to Tankleff to get him to confess - said from his home last week that he still believes “110 percent" that Tankleff is guilty of murdering his parents, and “welcomes" further investigation. “I will cooperate fully," he said. “I did nothing wrong . . . We got the right guy."
Attorneys for Tankleff disagree, saying cops and prosecutors ignored Seymour Tankleff's business partner Jerry Steuerman, who had a disagreement with Seymour and was in the family's home on the night of the murders. He also disappeared shortly after the murders were committed, faking his own death before cops found him.
Tankleff's attorneys submitted new evidence in 2006, including witnesses who pinned the murder on a man named Joseph Creedon, believed to be working for Steuerman. Creedon's son came forward and said his dad confessed to the crime.
“This is a very controversial case," Cuomo said. “You have so many lawyers and pieces of information out there. My office is ready to move forward, look at everything, and follow where the evidence takes us."
Tankleff - who has been staying with relatives in Westbury since his release - was unavailable for comment yesterday. Family spokesman Lonnie Soury said: “Even DA Tom Spota came to the conclusion that Marty's case should be dismissed. We expect an independent, fair and conflict-free independent prosecutor should have no problem coming to the same conclusion."
He added, “Any delay is unfair to Martin Tankleff and his family."