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Dante Taylor murder case complicated by claims of prosecutorial misconduct

Dante Taylor of Mastic, is led out of

Dante Taylor of Mastic, is led out of the Sixth Precinct in Selden for arraignment in Central Islip on Saturday, July 12, 2014. Taylor, 20, is being tried on second-degree murder charges in the June slaying of Sarah P. Goode of Medford Credit: James Carbone

The case against a Mastic man in the rape and murder of a young Medford mother — already complicated by evidence suppressed because of an improper interrogation — is now the subject of several defense claims of prosecutorial misconduct.

The attorney for Dante Taylor, 20, charged with first-degree murder in the June 7, 2014 death of Sarah Goode, 21, has filed a motion that says Suffolk prosecutors have illegally withheld evidence that undermines the case against Taylor and suggests someone else committed the crime.

“This is just egregious, in my opinion,” said Taylor’s lawyer, John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale. “This is just too far.”

But prosecutors say the only things that have gone too far are Lewis’ accusations.

“The history of this case includes repeated false accusations made by defense counsel in an effort to obfuscate and delay the trial of this horrific rape and murder,” DA spokesman Robert Clifford said.

And in court papers, Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Opisso wrote, “It seems that professionalism would dictate that these matters could be resolved with a simple phone call or letter, rather than a barrage of name-calling and a caustic motion consisting of false accusations.”

Opisso wrote that prosecutors “have met every request by counsel with complete cooperation.”

Taylor is accused of raping and stabbing Goode in her BMW, which was abandoned about a mile from where her body was found five days later in some woods in Medford. Even before the body was found, Taylor was arrested and questioned by Suffolk homicide detectives. After a pretrial hearing last year, state Supreme Court Justice John Collins ruled the questioning was unconstitutional because detectives failed to advise him of his rights after an “unsatisfactorily explained arrest.”

But prosecutors say DNA and fingerprints from a second arrest a month later linked Taylor to the crime.

Now, a month before the trial is scheduled to begin, Lewis said prosecutors have withheld several pieces of evidence favorable to the defense — violations of what is known as the Brady rule, which requires prosecutors to turn over such evidence as soon as possible.

Lewis said that prosecutors waited until November to disclose that a plastic bag containing a T-shirt, gloves and semen-stained boxers had been found in the same woods as Goode’s body, and that DNA from the boxers did not match Taylor.

Lewis said Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson told him she didn’t need to turn it over because it wasn’t relevant.

“She’s deciding what’s relevant to the defense?” Lewis said. “That’s not her determination. That’s the difference between a fair trial and a trial by surprise.”

Also, according to the defense motion, prosecutors waited 14 months to disclose that Goode’s sister had found black leggings in Goode’s size at Smith Point Park on June 11, 2014, and that police dogs and officers searched the area. Lewis said he’s still received no other information about the leggings or the search.

“Given the fact that the police investigation revealed that the initial prime suspect in the case, Jason Flores, went to Smith Point Park the morning after the victim disappeared, it is clear that the discovery and collection of the leggings are relevant and material to the defense,” Lewis wrote in the motion.

Flores has not been charged.

Lewis also said prosecutors did not disclose that a palm print on the BMW’s hood tested negative for blood. Police and prosecutors had earlier said the print was left in Goode’s blood.

Collins will address the motion Friday.

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