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- 01.20.08, Newsday Editorial: Next act begins in the Tankleff drama >
New York Times
January 29, 2008
By PAUL VITELLO
MINEOLA, N.Y. — Martin H. Tankleff, the Long Island man whose conviction was dismissed 17 years after he was found guilty of murdering his parents, has begun taking classes toward a bachelor’s degree at Hofstra University in Uniondale, N.Y., a family spokesman said Monday.
Mr. Tankleff, 36, was freed from prison in December after a state appellate court vacated his conviction and granted him a new trial.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court said that new evidence pointing to other possible suspects warranted a new trial for Mr. Tankleff. The panel said that he might never have been convicted if the new evidence, most of it uncovered by a private investigator, had been known to jurors who voted to convict him in 1990.
At the request of the district attorney in Suffolk County, where Seymour and Arlene Tankleff were killed in their home in 1988, Gov. Eliot Spitzer appointed a special prosecutor this month to decide whether to retry Mr. Tankleff or pursue other possible suspects.
Mr. Tankleff’s lawyer, Bruce A. Barket, said that his client developed “more than a passing interest in the law” during his 17 years of imprisonment, working with lawyers on various appeals and with a private investigator, Jay Salpeter, who tracked leads pointing to others as the Tankleffs’ killers. Mr. Barket said that Mr. Tankleff would eventually like to become a lawyer.
Because it is still possible that he could be retried, Mr. Tankleff has enrolled in only two courses this semester, Mr. Barket said. “Otherwise, if we weren’t preparing for a trial, Marty would be attending college full time,” he said. Mr. Barket said Mr. Tankleff was taking two required courses, philosophy “and a social science class,” though he did not know precisely which one.
The special prosecutor, Benjamin E. Rosenberg, chief trial counsel in the office of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, is expected to indicate the direction his investigation will take at a hearing on Feb. 15 in Suffolk County Criminal Court before Robert W. Doyle, a justice of the State Supreme Court in Riverhead.