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- 04.04.2004, New York Times: Questions About a Son's Guilt, and a Cop's Methods >
Man convicted of killing parents in 1988 still blames businessman
Martin Tankleff testifies at his 1990 trial about damp towels found on his bed.
By John Springer
In new papers filed Friday, attorneys for 32-year-old Martin Tankleff charge that they have uncovered even more evidence implicating the former business partner of Tankleff's father in the murders. The defense's suspect, Jerry Steuerman, told two people after the case made headlines again last year that he "cut their throats" but would die of old age before law enforcement caught up with him.
From the start, Martin told police that Steuerman owed his father a lot of money and that he was probably involved. Steuerman was the last of a half-dozen card players, Belle Terre's mayor and other prominent citizens, to leave a high-stakes game the night before.
"Having itself repeatedly and utterly failed to conduct an objective fact-finding investigation, the DA's office now argues that this Court should refuse to hold an evidentiary hearing, ensuring that Martin Tankleff, the remainder of the victims' family and the public will be forever deprived of learning the truth about who murdered Arlene and Seymour Tankleff," the defense papers say. "The new evidence, particularly when viewed in conjunction with the factual record in this case, is simply too important to be swept under the rug."
"Now they're basically taking potshots at the DA's office. We don't agree with them, so we must be bad people," Lato told Courttv.com. "Everyone is responsible for Marty Tankleff's plight except Marty Tankleff."
Defense lawyer Bruce Barket said he is 100-percent sure Tankleff is innocent and equally convinced he will prove it in court one day. He said Harris' statement rings too true to be ignored, given that he implicates people associated with Steuerman as the real killers.
"When a witness tells you he wants immunity from perjury, that means he may have lied and wants protection from it," Lato said. "I think he's nuts."
Lato likened the defense effort for a new trial after exhausting direct appeals to a golfer who stays on the teebox until he hits the shot he wants.
"It's like mulligans. You keep taking mulligans until you like the shot," he said. "The problem is that no jury would convict anybody of anything based solely on the testimony of Glen Harris."
According to the new court papers, Harris did not only tell the story about being the getaway driver to defense investigators; they say he told a priest and a nun. It's clear from the filing that the defense is worried first about getting a hearing, another trial after that.
"The DA's office highlights minor inconsistencies between the different statements made by Harris at different times in an effort to cast doubt on his credibility," the court paper say.+AKA- "Of course, the proper way to determine his credibility is at an evidentiary hearing."