The Manhattan man accused of killing his girlfriend’s former lover in West Babylon eight years ago exercised his right to remain silent after his arrest, but in a video played Monday for jurors, he had a question for the detective who arrested him.
In the video, Daniel Greenspan seems surprised to learn he’s being charged only with a single count of second-degree murder while reviewing arrest paperwork with Det. Michael Milau.
“But nothing like manslaughter, robbery, something else?” Greenspan asked Milau. “There was more than one charge, you said.”
Defense attorney Arthur Aidala asked for a mistrial, arguing the video showed his client’s statement was the result of impermissible questioning by Milau. Aidala asked Milau during cross-examination why Greenspan asked that question. Milau said he didn’t know.
Greenspan, 30, was the last of three people charged with killing Michael Sinclair, 32, of Brooklyn in the early hours of Jan. 31, 2009.
Greenspan’s friend, David Belton, 29, and girlfriend, Noriella Santos, 27, were first charged with killing Sinclair during the course of an attempted robbery. After two trials ended in hung juries, Belton pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder.
The prosecution’s theory of the case changed in 2015 after Santos agreed to cooperate against Greenspan in return for a plea to second-degree attempted robbery and a sentence of probation. She testified that Greenspan became enraged after she gave him herpes, which he believed she caught from Sinclair.
The circumstances of Greenspan’s question for Milau were the subject of the mistrial motion Aidala made Monday outside the jury’s presence. After a pretrial hearing last year, state Supreme Court Justice William Condon ruled that Greenspan’s question was admissible because it was not the result of interrogation.
But Aidala said the video showed it came during a discussion between Milau and Greenspan about the charges. He argued that this part of the video and another part in which another detective acknowledged Greenspan would not talk to them were unnecessarily prejudicial.
“That should never be in front of the jury,” Aidala said. “It’s not a spontaneous utterance. It’s in the course of a conversation with the detective. The whole video is extremely prejudicial. It’s extremely troubling.”
Condon denied the mistrial motion, but agreed that Greenspan’s question was “less of a spontaneous utterance and more of a continuation of a casual conversation.”
Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford said there was nothing prejudicial about the video, which she said shows detectives treating Greenspan respectfully.
“If jurors see the entire video, they would see him reading a book [that detectives got for him], for hours,” she said.
Later, during questioning by Aidala, Milau conceded the only evidence of Greenspan’s presence in Suffolk County when Sinclair was killed is the word of Santos.