Tankleff watches sunrise, huddles with attorney


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3:20 PM EST, December 28, 2007

Martin Tankleff spent his first full day of freedom Friday, forging ahead in his quest to prove he did not murder his parents.

Tankleff himself answered the phone at his lawyer's Garden City office Friday afternoon. "This is Marty," he said, before handing the phone over to a secretary who then put attorney Bruce Barket on the line.

"It rang and he picked it up," Barket said of Tankleff. "Marty hasn't gotten used to the idea ... of secretaries. It won't happen again."

Barket said he picked up his client in the morning at Tankleff's cousin's home in Westbury.

"There is a tremendous amount of work to do. He knows the record better than anyone," Barket said. "There's no time for enjoyment. He's not free. There's a double-murder charge and a million-dollar bail hanging over his head."

There was some time for a celebratory yet emotional homecoming Thursday after Tankleff was released in Riverhead. Tankleff's uncle, Michael McClure, said that Tankleff fell fast asleep at 1:30 a.m.

"He went out immediately," McClure said. "He slept until 5 a.m., made himself a cup of coffee and watched the sun come up, with tears. He cried. It was the first time he woke up and could do whatever he wanted at 5 a.m."

Barket said while there have been no travel restrictions imposed with the bail agreement, Tankleff is "not going to go very far from my office or from home."

Tankleff and his legal team plan to work every day "until he's acquitted," Barket said.

"If the D.A.'s office removes this burden from us, that's great," Barket said. "We're going to prepare for trial."

When work wraps up Friday, Tankleff likely will return to his cousin's house, where he spent his first night after being released from prison.

"This is home now," said his aunt Marianne McClure, pointing to the Parkway Drive house behind her. "He's either going to be with his lawyers or with us."