Novack jury ends second day with no verdict

NEWS 12 WESTCHESTER: Narcy Novack and Cristobal Veliz are accused of plotting to kill Ben Novack Jr. (June 19, 2012)

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Jurors in the Ben Novack Jr. murder trial deliberated for the second straight day Tuesday without reaching a verdict in federal court in White Plains.

The jury asked for clarifications on some of the more than 60 criminal charges prosecutors have lodged against ex-stripper Narcy Novack, 55, and her brother Cristobal Veliz, 58.

The two have been charged with hiring hit men to kill her multimillionaire husband at a Rye Brook hotel and his elderly mother in Florida in 2009.

On Tuesday afternoon, the panel asked to read some of the testimony given by admitted hit man Alejandro Garcia and Veliz's son-in-law Dennis Ramirez.

Earlier in the day, jurors appeared to be focusing on a point of law.

Before a lunch break, the jury asked U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth Karas whether it had to find that the defendants committed robbery to determine whether they were guilty of felony murder, which is defined as a killing committed during the course of another crime.

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Karas told the jurors that they did.

The jury has now met for about 15 hours, sifting through eight weeks of often-gruesome testimony, documents, videotapes and crime scene photographs.

Prosecutors told the jury that Narcy Novack, a Florida resident, and her brother, who lived in Brooklyn, sent hit men Joel Gonzalez and Garcia to murder her husband, who was 53 at the time of his death.

They said that Narcy Novack gave Ben Novack Jr.'s diamond bracelet to the hit men after they beat her husband to death with dumbbells and slit his eyeballs with a utility knife in his Rye Brook Hilton hotel suite on July 12, 2009.

They said the defendants hired Garcia and Melvin Medrano -- who has been deported to Nicaragua -- to kill the husband's 86-year-old mother, Bernice Novack, in her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., three months earlier. The mother was beaten to death with a wrench.

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According to prosecutors, the killings were arranged so Narcy Novack could inherit an $8 million Novack family fortune. Ben Novack Jr. was the son of the founder of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

Narcy Novack feared that her husband of 21 years -- who was having an affair with 40-year-old ex-stripper and porn actress Rebecca Bliss -- was planning to divorce her, prosecutors said.

A prenuptial agreement called for Narcy Novack to receive just $65,000, they noted.

Narcy Novack and Veliz have pointed the finger at May Abad, Narcy Novack's 36-year-old daughter, suggesting that Abad hired Gonzalez and Garcia so that Abad and her two sons could get Ben Novack Jr.'s millions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember told jurors that the hit men have "no relationship to May Abad. They don't even know who she is."

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Abad has not been charged.

Defense attorneys noted inconsistencies in Gonzalez's and Garcia's testimony, deriding them as "monsters."

"These are the people the government would have you rely on," said Howard Tanner, Narcy Novack's lawyer. "You can't rely on their testimony, and if you can't, you can't find guilt."

If convicted of the top charge, the siblings could be sentenced to mandatory life in prison.

The jurors will return Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. to resume weighing the charges.

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