NEW YORK -- A New York Supreme Court jury found Wharton junior Christopher Clemente guilty on all nine drug and weapons charges last night after deliberating for almost five hours. Both Clemente and co-defendant Leah Bundy, who was convicted on identical charges, now face a minimum of 25 years to life in prison. Judge Richard Lowe allowed the two to remain free until sentencing, which was set for February 28. One of Clemente's attorneys, Ronald Kuby, said last night the defense will appeal the verdict. He added, however, that Lowe indicated the Wharton junior would not be released on bail pending a decision on the appeal. Clemente's home phone number in the Bronx has been changed, and he could not be reached for comment last night. The nine man, three woman jury came back with the verdict just before 8 p.m. after an intense day in Lowe's downtown Manhattan court room. Both sides presented emotional closing arguments that lasted throughout the morning, and Lowe spent over two hours in the afternoon giving the jury its charge. The courtroom was two-thirds full with newspaper reporters and spectators, including Clemente's mother Barbara Jenkins, who remained deadly silent during the morning summations, which lasted over three hours. In his closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Maxwell Wiley asserted that Clemente and Bundy were part of a drug operation that may have inclued several other people, including Clemente's brother Henry. He argued that the defense's arguments that the two were in the apartment for romantic reasons was mere speculation based on no facts. "They were not in the wrong place at the wrong time," Wiley said with the most emotion he has shown throughout the seven-day trial. "They were not the victim of chance or bad judgement. They were where they wanted to be." "You heard that Christopher Clemente is a law abiding citizen," the assistant DA said, referring to character witnesses from the University. "I ask you [the jury], as law abiding citizens, if you would spend even a minute at that apartment. That is a place you run from." Clemente's attorney, famed civil liberties attorney William Kunstler, argued that evidence showed the apartment did not belong to Clemente. He also stated that the drugs or weapons were not tested for fingerprints and could be linked to Clemente. Kunstler, who was the first to deliver a closing argument, said that the apartment, drugs and weapons belonged to someone else, possibly Clemente's brother Henry, and that the two were only there for a romantic encounter. "The issue is not whether he used bad judgement by using an aparment to find a moment of love and peace," he argued. "You have him alone with a young attractive girl. You have an apartment that was used for a tryst." Kunstler argued that his interpretation of the night's events was just as valid as the prosecution's. He asserted that if two inferences are of equal validity, law mandates the jury find in favor of the scenario that points to innocence. Kuby said last night that he and Kunstler were extremely upset by the verdict. "Both Bill and I are shocked and disappointed, but it's a sign of the times," the ponytailed attorney said. "The callous disregard that the jury showed for the life of Christopher Clemente is the same callous disregard that we are seeing for life in the Persian Gulf." Clemente was arrested the night of January 9, 1990 in a Harlem apartment by police who were responding to a call of a man shot. Clemente threw 2000 crack vials into an alley, and cut his hands while struggling desperately to rip away a locked window gate so he could flee, Wiley said. In the apartment, police found 214 vials of crack cocaine, several large chunks of crack, $11,000 in cash and a loaded MAC-11 machine pistol. In addition to the over 2000 vials of crack, poice say a 9mm pistol and a scale were dropped out of the apartment window. Kunstler and Bundy's lawyer, Gail Davis, said in closing arguments that if their clients had been in control of the apartment and its contents, they would have had a key for the window gate. They would also have known about the guns hidden behind a radiator and in a closet and would have tried to throw them out.Comments powered by Disqus
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