In the wake of claims that Suffolk prosecutors are improperly withholding evidence in a rape-murder case, a judge Friday ordered both sides to bring “every single piece of paper” they have to the courtroom next month to resolve the issue.
The unusual step by state Supreme Court Justice John Collins came in the first-degree murder case against Dante Taylor, 20, of Mastic.
Taylor is accused of raping and stabbing to death Sarah Goode, 21, of Medford on June 7, 2014, after meeting her at a party earlier that night.
Normally, attorneys engage in discovery — the pretrial disclosure of evidence — without judicial supervision. But in this case, defense attorney John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale has argued that prosecutors have repeatedly withheld evidence favorable to his client.
That would be a violation of the Brady rule, which generally requires prosecutors to turn over such evidence as soon as they have it.
Among the things that prosecutors did not divulge, Lewis said, was the discovery near the body of underwear stained by semen from someone other than Taylor, and the recovery of leggings in the same size and style worn by Goode at Smith Point Park, where another suspect in the case went the day after she disappeared.
Prosecutors have said they’ve turned over everything they’re obligated to turn over on schedule.
The case had already been complicated by an improper police interrogation of Taylor. After a pretrial hearing last year, Collins ruled the questioning was unconstitutional because detectives failed to advise him of his rights after an “unsatisfactorily explained arrest.” The judge suppressed evidence gathered as a result of that arrest, but prosecutors say DNA and fingerprints from a second arrest a month later linked Taylor to the crime.
Without ruling in the latest dispute, Collins said it’s clear that he now needs to manage the discovery process. He told both sides to bring their entire case files to court on Feb. 22.
“There will be no new discovery, absent the sky falling, by either party after that date,” Collins said. If any undisclosed evidence turns up after that date, he said it will be precluded from the trial.
Collins told Lewis, Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson and their co-counsels they still could avoid his supervision.
“Anything that I’ve said is not a bar to the four of you from working it out,” he said. “If not, I will resolve it all. I don’t know why you would want that, but that is what you will get.”