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Shannan Gilbert 911 calls sought in lawsuit; Suffolk fights release

Vesselin Mitev, attorney for the estate of Shannan

Vesselin Mitev, attorney for the estate of Shannan Gilbert, speaks to reporters outside State Supreme Court in Riverhead on Friday, Feb. 26, 2016. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Suffolk County argued Wednesday that police should not have to release the 911 recordings made the night Shannan Gilbert was last seen — a disappearance that led to a criminal investigation into the eventual discovery of 10 sets of human remains in the area of Gilgo Beach.

The release “would compromise confidential information and interfere with and frustrate the SCPD’s efforts with respect to that investigation,” Det. Patrick Portela, the lead investigator, said in a court filing.

The filing in state Supreme Court in Riverhead came in a civil action brought by Gilbert’s mother against the Oak Beach man who was the last known person to see her daughter alive.

Lawyers for the Gilbert estate have gotten judicial orders requiring the county to turn over the 911 tapes, but the county has sought to quash those orders.

A lawyer for the estate, John Ray of Miller Place, argued in an earlier court filing that there is legal precedent for releasing 911 tapes and other investigative materials needed in a lawsuit.

Ray’s associate, Vesselin Mitev, said after a court hearing last week that Suffolk police had just sought the public’s help with an open case by releasing a video showing the 2014 shooting of Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius.

“And this case has been pending for six years,” Mitev said of Gilbert’s unsolved disappearance and death.

Judge Daniel Martin, who is presiding over the case, has given no indication when he will rule on the 911 dispute.

The lawsuit names Dr. C. Peter Hackett, who opened his door to Gilbert after she fled from a nearby house on May 1, 2010.

The lawsuit said he claimed his house was a home for wayward girls and took her in, improperly gave her drugs to calm her, then let her leave in a helpless state.

Hackett’s attorney has denied the claim.

The judge has dismissed the original claims of wrongful death and causing pain and suffering, ruling they were filed too late.

The judge allowed other claims to stand, including one that Hackett misled Gilbert into believing he would take care of her, and that his medical malpractice and other actions led to her eventual death and caused pain and suffering to her and her family.

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