A New York Supreme Court judge ruled Friday that a 14-ounce bag of powdered cocaine cannot be used as evidence against accused drug dealer Christopher Clemente. But the bag, which was found by police in a coat sleeve hanging in a closet, is the only one of six disputed items of evidence against the Wharton sophomore that was ruled inadmissible. New York District Attorney's Office spokesperson Gerald McKelvey said Friday that the suppression of the bag of cocaine will not change any of nine felony charges against Clemente, adding that the state is prepared to go to trial without further action. The Wharton sophomore's attorneys called the ruling "sloppy and wrong" and vowed yesterday to take the "extraordinary step" of asking the judge for a reconsideration of the ruling. One of Clemente's lawyers said yesterday that Judge Richard Lowe's decision was filled with numerous factual inaccuracies -- including incorrectly locating rooms in the apartment where Clemente was arrested -- and maintained that a reconsideration is mandatory. "This is somewhat typical of Judge Lowe," said Ronald Kuby, who is defending Clemente along with civil liberties lawyer William Kunstler. "He failed to show he grasps the undisputed facts. It shows how much attention he was paying during the hearings." Kunstler said Friday that Lowe set a target trial date for November 16, but added that if the judge decides to reconsider the legality of the evidence, the date could be pushed back. Kuby said that the suppression of the bag of cocaine -- the largest single quantity seized inside the Harlem apartment in which Clemente was arrested -- was a "partial victory," but said that the rest of the ruling was "totally wrong." He said that some of the undisputed facts Lowe misinterpreted were essential to the defense's case. Kuby said that Lowe's ruling states that two officers entered into one of the apartment's rooms simultaneously even though police officers, prosecuting attorneys and defense lawyers have stated that one officer entered the room after another one. Kuby said that this fact is key to the defense's argument that evidence seized in the room -- including a bag with 200 vials of crack cocaine, a "drug ledger" with Clemente's name on it and $11,000 cash -- is inadmissible. The defense has maintained that the second officer who entered the room and seized the evidence had no right to be in the room. Since the police were originally responding to a report of a shooting, the emergency conditions under which they searched the apartment only allowed officers to conduct a "quick sweep" of the apartment which would ensure that no gunman or shooting victim was in the room. The defense argues that the first officer had already ascertained that no one was in the room before the second officer entered. Hearings on the legality of the police search and seizure of the evidence were held this summer. Clemente, who returned to campus this semester after spending most of last semester in New York City jails, faces nine felony drug and weapons charges -- three of which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment -- stemming from his January 9 arrest in a Harlem apartment. Other than the 14 ounces of powdered cocaine, police say they confiscated over 200 vials of crack cocaine, a loaded M-11 gun and a drug ledger. An additional 2000 vials of crack and a loaded semi-automatic machine pistol were thrown out of an apartment window just after officers surrounded the building, police said.Comments powered by Disqus
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