The case against Rudy Carter, the former Lakeview man who Nassau prosecutors say fled the county 29 years ago on the eve of his conviction for rape, may be fraught with "legal problems," a judge and Carter's attorney said.
At a hearing Friday in Nassau County Court Judge George Peck's nearly empty courtroom, Carter appeared with his attorney, Michael Berger, in a wheelchair and made no statements.
But Peck and Berger mentioned unresolved issues that could affect Carter's sentencing.
Peck was unsure why Judge Alfred Samenga, who presided over the trial in 1981, did not sentence Carter after a jury returned a guilty verdict. It was also unclear whether the fact the proceeding continued despite Carter's absence could now affect the case.
Carter, who was free on bail at the time of the jury's deliberation after having been arrested in August 1979, did not show up in court on April 6, 1981, the day before the jury returned guilty verdicts on charges of rape and sexual abuse.
Samenga issued a bench warrant for Carter's arrest but did not hand down a sentence.
"I don't know why Judge Samenga did not pronounce sentencing in absentia," Peck said. "Is there a legal problem that 30 years have passed and the sentence was not imposed?"
Peck added: "These are just questions I'm throwing out there."
Still, Peck ordered a pre-sentencing report be prepared for Carter, rearrested earlier this month by a joint fugitive task force in Elizabeth, N.J. The Nassau County Police Department's Fugitive Squad, the U.S. Marshals Service's Fugitive Task Force and an investigator for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice located Carter in a hotel on March 4.
Berger said he would likely advise his client not to make any statements in preparation of the pre-sentencing report, adding he was unsure whether there were "legal errors" committed in the period between Carter's disappearance and now.
Carter is due back in court April 13.