The judge presiding over the first-degree murder trial of a Mastic man accused of raping and killing a Medford woman instructed the jury Thursday that prosecutors had violated the defendant’s right to a fair trial by withholding evidence favorable to him for a year and a half.
State Supreme Court Justice John Collins then described for jurors in detail all of the evidence, told them prosecutors would not be permitted to challenge it and that jurors could consider all of it when they begin deliberating next week in the case against Dante Taylor, 21.
He is accused of stabbing Sarah Goode, 21, more than 40 times on June 7, 2014, in Medford.
Collins’ instruction followed his determination in April that Suffolk prosecutors had repeatedly violated what is known as the Brady rule, which generally requires prosecutors to turn over evidence favorable to a defendant as soon as they have it.
Collins told jurors that Taylor’s attorneys were entitled to this evidence when they asked for it in August 2014, but that prosecutors withheld it until February 2016. Collins described a series of CrimeStoppers tips:
- One set of tips said Goode was feuding with a woman, Jamie DiStefano, over Keith Morrison, a man both women had dated.
- Another set of tips said that on June 11, 2014, two men were overheard at Hunter Business School, which Goode also attended, saying that her body had been dumped in the woods off East Bartlett Road in Middle Island. Goode’s body was found the next day in some woods in Medford.
- Another set of tips said Joseph Augone, the brother of Goode’s friend Brandon Allen, posted on Facebook that she had been at his house the night she disappeared, and that he posted a photograph of his bloody knuckles. Collins showed jurors that photo. Allen testified earlier in the trial about Goode’s visit.
- Several tips concerned David Allen, a boyfriend Goode broke up with days before she was killed. On June 3, 2014, Goode called 911 to report that Allen’s mother had threatened to kill her over a Facebook post. Another call said Allen didn’t come to work the morning after Goode disappeared.
- Collins told jurors that police retrieved a profane and threatening 17-second voice mail message Allen left on Goode’s phone, but did not save it or tell the defense about it in time for them to investigate it before trial.
- Collins told jurors he would not allow prosecutors to explain their behavior. Before deliberations begin, he said he will tell jurors they can infer this evidence was all favorable to the defense.
Later Thursday, defense attorney John Lewis Jr. of Farmingdale called Suffolk homicide Det. Guido Cirenza to testify about his interrogation of Taylor on June 10, 2014, and the search of the car Taylor used.
Cirenza said Taylor denied seeing Goode after meeting her at a street party on her last night out, even after he confronted Taylor with cellphone location data showing him moving from Mastic to Medford.
“Did he lie to you the whole time?” Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson asked Cirenza, who agreed.
Lewis has conceded that his client did go to Medford that night and had consensual sex, but did not attack her.
The two-hour search of the car found nothing, Cirenza said. The car was searched two more times before investigators say they found a spot of Goode’s blood inside it.
The trial’s last witness was Taylor’s mother, Darlene Gonzalez. She testified that Taylor grew up in Goode’s neighborhood and often visited friends and family there.
She said that as police attention focused on her son, she bought him a one-way plane ticket to Florida and encouraged him to stay with cousins there. Lewis asked why it was a one-way ticket.
“I didn’t know when it would be safe for him to come back,” she said.
Police eventually arrested Taylor in Florida.
Closing arguments in the case will be made Monday.