Jury, Judge Pierre N. Leval, Assist. U.S. Attorney Robert Stewart, Gaetano Badalamenti, Salvatore Catalano

Scene from Pizza connection trial, from left to right: jury, U.S. Attorney Robert Stewart, Judge Pierre N. Leval, defendant Gaetano Badalamenti, and defendant Salvatore Catalano.




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Yoko Ono is Sued Over Royalties for John Lennon’s Final Albums

In April 1984, music producer Jack Douglas sued Yoko Ono in civil court. The jury sided with Douglas, who contended Ono had not paid him over $2.5 million in royalties owed for his collaboration on “Double Fantasy” and “Milk and Honey,” John Lennon’s final albums.

The founder of Rolling Stone magazine saw Ida Libby Dengrove sketching in the courtroom and offered to buy one of her drawings. Ono informed him that the drawings were spoken for. A week later, Ono invited Dengrove over to discuss purchasing the sketches. Ono was as impressed by Ida Libby’s art as Ida Libby was of Ono’s antiques: “The apartment seemed like a museum with an eclectic gathering of items of unbelievable taste for classic design and color . . .” The women had tea and cake, listened to music, and discussed art. Ida Libby found Ono a pleasant hostess, but “[i]t was obvious that Yoko still suffered from the loss of her husband.”

The Yale Murder: Richard Herrin Kills Girlfriend Bonnie Garland in Jealous Rage

Garland v. Herrin, 554 F. Supp. 308 (S.D.N.Y. 1983)

Richard Herrin grew up poor in East Los Angeles and was hailed as a hero when he got into Yale in 1971. Bonnie Garland was a well-traveled legacy who entered Yale when Herrin was a senior. They dated until Herrin’s graduation and decided to stay together when he moved to Texas for graduate school.

After two years long distance, Richard received a letter from Bonnie saying she was seeing someone else. Richard flew to New York on July 3, 1977, intent on winning her back. He stayed with the Garland family, but Bonnie remained insistent that she wanted to see other men. Just after midnight on July 7, Richard Herrin found a hammer in the basement, concealed it with a towel from his suitcase, and snuck upstairs. He bludgeoned her head and throat, fled, and confessed to a priest that morning. Bonnie Garland lived for twenty hours after sustaining a depressed skull fracture and a brain laceration. She died on July 8.

Prominent members of both the Yale and Catholic communities rallied around Herrin, a fact that horrified those whose sympathies lay with the victim, including Dengrove. Though the prosecution sought a conviction for second-degree murder, Herrin was found guilty of manslaughter and served only 17 years. Bonnie’s parents sued him in civil court when he was released; they were awarded $40,000.  In 1997, Richard Herrin was hired to run a safe community agency in New Mexico.

Police Officers Charged in Death of Graffiti Artist Michael Stewart

Shortly before 3 a.m. on September 15, 1983, police arrested Michael Stewart in a 14th Street subway station for writing in felt-tip marker on the wall. Within an hour, officers brought him to Bellevue Hospital. Stewart had nopulse or blood pressure. He was revived but remained comatose until his death 13 days later.

Stewart was black. The cops who arrested him were white. Three officers—John Kostick, Henry Boerner, and Anthony Piscola—were charged with criminally negligent homicide, assault, and perjury, and three others—Susan Techky, Henry Hassler, and James Barry—with committing perjury before the investigating grand jury.

Chief Medical Examiner Elliot Gross concluded Stewart died of cardiac arrest and that neither bruising on Stewart’s face nor abrasions on his wrists were contributing injuries. A month later, Gross changed his mind in the final report and cited a spinal cord injury as cause of death. Two years later, Gross changed his mind again, and decided he had no opinion on how Stewart died.

But the Chief Medical Examiner of Massachusetts, who reviewed hospital records and the autopsy report, testified that Michael Stewart died of asphyxia as a result of force applied to his neck. A witness for the prosecution, who was studying at his dormitory window, said he saw an officer use a nightstick to put a chokehold on Stewart. The defense claimed Stewart drunkenly, violently resisted arrest and died of heart failure.

The all-white jury found the officers not guilty after seven days of deliberation.


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