Originally published in Newsday on April 4, 1990
After deliberating less than eight hours, a Nassau County Court jury yesterday found Robert Golub guilty of second-degree murder in the March, 1989, killing of Kelly Ann Tinyes, a verdict that triggered pandemonium in a packed Mineola courtroom.
Golub, expressionless, looked once at the jury as the verdict was read, back at Judge Marvin Goodman and then, once more, at the jury as it was polled, member by member. Then he stood up and put his arms behind him for the waiting handcuffs. He looked briefly, still without expression, at his parents and was led quietly away to jail.
The courtroom erupted in screams as the verdict was read.
Victoria Tinyes, mother of the victim, burst into tears and pounded on the railing in front of her. "Are you happy now?" screamed Linda Player, the dead girl's aunt, at the defendant's family. Kelly's grandfather began shouting at the Golubs, "You rotten bastards!" Richard Tinyes, Kelly's father, stormed out of the courtroom in a rage, kicking a courthouse display board in the lobby.
Golub's mother, Elizabeth, closing her eyes and leaning her head back, sobbed and whispered through tightened jaws as her husband, John, put his arm around her. The defendant's older sister, Adele Golub, screamed back at the Tinyeses, "I didn't do it!" Her father, John, his face reddened and fighting tears, tried to restrain her.
The judge shouted vainly for order, then ordered the courtroom cleared. A host of court officers surrounded the families and began escorting them out. The Golub family was ushered from the courtroom under a heavy escort of white-shirted court officers. Outside, they were placed in a waiting limousine, which sped off with an escort of police cars.
"Don't be concerned about your safety," the judge told the jurors, whose identities he had ordered sealed, citing fears of harassment. "Your names haven't been released. Your addresses haven't been released."
In an interview later, Richard Tinyes was asked what went through his mind when the verdict was announced. "I knew I had an angel sitting on my shoulder," he said. Asked who that was, he added, "One was Kelly and one was my father." His father, John L. Tinyes, died of cancer a month after the murder of the 13-year-old girl, who had helped care for him during his illness.
One of the jurors, who spoke last night on condition of anonymity, said the prosecution's scientific testimony - which linked Golub to the killing through blood, hair and dental evidence - was of central importance to the verdict. "It really wasn't one thing," said the juror. "It was the accumulation of the evidence: the DNA, the palm-print and the bite-mark."
A second juror interviewed last night agreed, saying, "Everything just pointed in one direction."
The jury foreman, appearing shaken and drawn in a brief interview at his home later, declined to discuss the deliberations.
Another juror said, "We were all prepared for a scene, but I don't think any of us was prepared for that much of a scene. A few of us expected to hear cheers or cries, but we couldn't even hear what was going on it was so loud."
Kelly's battered, mutilated body was found by police in a basement closet of the Golub home on March 4, 1989, the morning after she walked down the block after receiving a phone call from someone at the Golub home, testimony showed. Robert Golub, 22, denied any involvement, saying he was in the house when the was killed but maintaining he had not seen her. He did not testify during the eight-week trial.
After the verdict, the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Cotter, called it "the most difficult case I've handled." He said he would recommend the maximum sentence, 25 years to life, a term Cotter said "it's almost guaranteed" Goodman will impose. Sentencing was set for June 1.
Goodman ordered a psychiatric examination for Golub in setting the sentencing date, a standard procedure.
Defense lawyer Salvatore Marinello, who maintained that police and prosecutors targeted his client out of frustration with a baffling case, also was escorted from the courtroom under guard and couldn't be reached for immediate comment. David Grossman, who assisted in the defense, said Marinello was "exploring the possibility" of an appeal.
On Horton Road, a neighborhood that exploded in rage and fear after the killing, dozens of friends and neighbors gathered outside the Tinyes home and along the street after the verdict, carrying balloons, flowers and bottles of champagne for the victim's family. Relatives were inside the Tinyes home, but the Tinyes family did not return home after the verdict, going to a relative's house instead and not returning home until 12:15 a.m. this morning. Police cars sat outside both the Tinyes home and the Golub's, and the block was heavily patrolled by police throughout the evening.
"Justice had to be done for our kids," said Ginger Falco, whose 14-year-old daughter, Stephanie, had grown up with Kelly.
"I hope he rots in jail," said Gina Fischer, referring to Robert Golub, who has been held without bail at the Nassau County Jail since his arrest last March.
By contrast, the Golub house, at 81 Horton Rd., remained dark and apparently empty until late last night, when the defendant's parents returned home, and were immediately surrounded by news reporters seeking their reaction to the verdict and the uproar at the courthouse.
"We've come to expect that from them," John Golub said of the Tinyes family. Asked if the Golubs intended to move out of the neighborhood, he replied, "I don't think so."
Court officers said they were shocked by the reaction to the verdict. John Baglivi, a court officer for 23 years, said "I've never seen an outburst like that in all the trials Ive been on." Victor Ort, chief clerk of the court, said looking at the Golub parents "was one of the most heartrending things I've ever seen. I thought Mr. Golub was going to have a heart attack right on the spot."
The outburst "was like spontaneous combustion," he said.
The swift verdict followed less than a full day's deliberation by the jury. The panel had started on the case about 3:30 p.m. Monday after being charged by Goodman that it would have to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the charge of second-degree murder.
Jurors, faced with a enormous amount of technical evidence embracing more than 200 exhibits, asked for some of that soon after beginning deliberations Monday, dwelling particularly on bite-mark evidence which the prosecution said involved bites made by Golub on the body.
Later the panel asked for a readback only on testimony as to who was, or was not, in the Golub home on the fatal afternoon of March 3, 1989. It got that yesterday morning, broke for lunch, and reconvened at 1.
Just before handing up its verdict, it asked for a readback of the law on what comprises second-degree murder - the highest possible charge in New York State not involving the killing of a police officer.
"I felt when I walked out of the court I wasn't able to talk to anybody. It may have not been visible, but I literally was shaking," Cotter said as he relaxed in his office about an hour after the emotional trial climax, accepting congratulations from colleagues.
Cotter said he at first expected jury deliberations to go a lot longer. He changed his mind early yesterday.
"When I saw this morning how they [jurors] cut through the readbacks and went to what they wanted . . . it was clear they had a lot of the facts," Cotter said.
The verdict was the jury's solution to what Marinello had described as "The Mystery of 81 Horton Road."
There, in the Golub house on the afternoon of March 3, 1989, in a basement room, Kelly met a violent, agonizing and bloody death; her head bashed repeatedly, her chest slashed; she was strangled and sexually mutilated.
All the while this was going on, the defendant hadinsisted, he was upstairs in his bedroom, napping and watching television. He insisted that he did not even know Kelly was in the house.
The prosecution sought to prove that there was a period of time when Golub was alone in the house with the girl and could reasonably be judged the murderer. The defense tried to show that none of this testimony was strong enough to convict the defendant.
Without confession and witnesses, the district attorney's office sought to prove its case with an array of circumstantial evidence: Golub's palm print - in blood, the prosecution insisted - near where the body was discovered; traces of Golub's blood mixed with the victim's on articles at the murder scene; a hair, said to be Kelly's, found on Golub's bedsheet in his upstairs room; his teeth marks, on the neck and buttock of the victim's body.
The trial turned into a battle of scientific expertise: forensic experts on autopsy; police experts on blood and handprints, genetics experts on DNA identification; dental experts on bite marks and dental impressions. The prosecution's specialists sought to establish that this data tied Golub to the scene. The defense insisted they were erroneous, fragmentary and insufficient.
But in counterpoint to the stream of technical data was an atmosphere of horror and hostility, from the nature of the brutal murder and from the fact that the accused and victim were neighbors, living only a few houses apart.
Richard Tinyes, in a telephone interview last night, said the verdict could be a first step back for a family that has been living a nightmare.
"No matter how many years he gets, it don't bring back my daughter. It relieves a lot more. Maybe we can get back to a normal life - maybe. I have to go back to my business and continue my life. I have my wife and son to worry about."
Eric Nagourney, Liz Willen, Elizabeth Wasserman, Carol Eisenberg and Alvin E. Bessent contributed to this story