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Tarantino defense hits witness credibility

Undated photo of Christian Tarantino.

Undated photo of Christian Tarantino. Credit: Handout

A defense attorney tried to undermine the credibility of the key government witness in the retrial on murder charges of Dix Hills gym owner Christian Tarantino by getting him to admit that he bore a grudge against Tarantino's family.

Under questioning by defense attorney Stephen Rosen, the witness, Scott Mulligan, acknowledged that he "blamed" Tarantino's brother Steve and the Tarantino family for the 37 months he served in federal prison on marijuana charges. Neither Mulligan nor Rosen provided further details on the history of that case.

In U.S. District Court in Central Islip, Mulligan also acknowledged he had had a lengthy history of drug and alcohol abuse.

Mulligan has provided lengthy details on what he has said is Tarantino's involvement in the 1994 murder of armored car guard Julius Baumgardt during a Muttontown robbery, and the subsequent murder of associate Louis Dorval, who Tarantino suspected might become an informant.

Tarantino was convicted of those murders last year, but a mistrial was declared over whether he was responsible for the killing of Vincent Gargiulo. Federal prosecutors, now retrying Tarantino, alleged Gargiulo was killed because he was attempting to extort $500,00 from Tarantino.

After the testimony of Mulligan, who has pleaded guilty to murder in the Baumgardt killing, the government rested its case.

Defense attorney Rosen called as his first witness, LeShan Campbell, a friend of Pedro Amador, a government witness who has pleaded guilty to being the lookout in the Gargiulo killing.

Rosen suggested that Amador's testimony could not be accurate because he had previously told authorities he and another participant in the murder had stayed at Campbell's apartment at the time of the murder.

But Rosen noted that Campbell had told authorities that the apartment was not occupied at that time.

Federal prosecutor James Miskiewicz, however, showed Campbell his telephone records that indicated calls to both the phones of Tarantino and Gargiulo's roommate had been made from the apartment when it was supposed to be empty.

Campbell said he did not know either person and could not explain how the calls could have been made.

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