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Dante Taylor murder case evidence released late

Dante Taylor of Mastic after his arraignment in

Dante Taylor of Mastic after his arraignment in 2014. Credit: James Carbone

A month after a Suffolk judge said he would ensure that prosecutors turn over required evidence in a rape-murder case, prosecutors were still disclosing potentially helpful information to the defense.

The new evidence in the first-degree murder case against Dante Taylor includes Crime Stoppers tips pointing to other possible suspects and two police searches of Spring Lake in Middle Island.

Defense attorney John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale said he received that information late Friday, more than a year after the defense should have had it.

Taylor, 20, of Mastic, is accused of raping and stabbing Sarah Goode, 21, of Medford, 42 times, leaving her car covered in blood and a piece of a blade embedded in the base of her skull on June 7, 2014. His DNA was found in her body and his palm print was found in her blood on the hood of her abandoned car, prosecutors have said. He faces a maximum of life in prison without parole if convicted.

“At the end of the day, the overwhelming physical evidence will prevail,” Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson said Tuesday.

The case has been plagued by defense claims that prosecutors have withheld evidence favorable to Taylor in violation of the Brady rule, which generally requires prosecutors to turn over such evidence as soon as they have it.

After Lewis asked for the case to be dismissed as a result, state Supreme Court Justice John Collins said last month that he would take control of the process.

Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Opisso wrote in court papers soon afterward that “all material information requested by the defendant ... and in the People’s possession has been provided.”

During a hearing Tuesday, Lewis said he didn’t get the Crime Stoppers tips from prosecutors until the end of the day Friday. Albertson said she got them only the day before.

One tip claimed that the mother of one of Goode’s former boyfriends had threatened to kill her. Another said Goode had fought physically with the girlfriend of another former boyfriend.

Lewis said he should have had this information 18 months ago, when police knew about it. He said the tips “lend credence” to a remark Goode made on Twitter shortly before her death that she was being threatened.

Albertson told Collins police didn’t explain why she didn’t get the information until last week.

She argued Lewis was not entitled to know the reasons behind the police searches of Spring Lake, but Collins suggested it might be relevant to a defense.

“I’m sure they didn’t just go there on a whim,” the judge said. “I want to know.”

Collins asked for written arguments on whether to dismiss the charges as a result of the claimed Brady rule violations, and he said he’ll rule on the issue March 29.

He said jury selection would begin May 3, “if there is a case with which to go forward.”


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