The jury obviously did not believe the prosecutions contention that he was robbed, said Tanner.
Jeffrey Sloman, the former U.S. Attorney in Miami, said New York federal prosecutors made too much stew for the jurors. Almost 100 pages of jury instructions can often be a disaster, especially for jurors who have already sat through nine weeks of testimony. But, he said, the bottom line is that they won.
The truth is, with this kind of case, youre going to get a conviction even if it was written in Chinese, said Sloman, who is now in private practice.
One juror, Danielle Daly of Yonkers, told The Journal News of Westchester afterwards that Veliz dug his own grave by testifying, with his contradictions and lies. Daly also said jurors would have liked to have heard from Narcy Novack, but the defendant made the smart move by not taking the stand.
The sinister plot began in April 2009, when Veliz, a Philadelphia tour bus driver, hired two Miami men to stalk and then attack Bernice Novack, a former model who, as queen of the Fontainebleau, once mingled with U.S. presidents, heads of state and Frank Sinatra. Her husband, Novack Sr., lost the hotel in bankruptcy in 1977 and died in 1985. Despite her years, Bernice Novack was a spry, vigorous woman who lived alone and practiced yoga. But on April 6, 2009, she was found sprawled in a pool of blood in the laundry room of her Fort Lauderdale home.
Fort Lauderdale police and the Broward County medical examiner called her death accidental, saying it probably stemmed from a fall she had taken a week earlier in a bank parking lot. At first, her son thought it was an accident, but he soon feared something more suspicious had happened.
But before he could act on those suspicions, he was bludgeoned to death at the Rye Town Hilton, in Rye Brook, N.Y., about a half hour north of Manhattan. Novack Jr., known a volatile businessman who had stuttered speech, an obsession with Batman toys and kinky sex fetishes, went on to his own success after his fathers hotel empire crumbled. He ran a Fort Lauderdale-based company, Convention Concepts Unlimited, and was overseeing a meeting for one of his most prestigious clients, Amway International, at the time he was slain.
The creepy characters that were part of the Veliz Enterprise -- and the bloody plot they wove together, however, was about as organized as a teenager's closet. Their missteps included using a broken down getaway car, putting each other's phone numbers in their cell phones, getting chased away by a former Miami Dolphins linebacker and using credit cards to buy the murder weapons.
The two killers, Alejandro Garcia and Joel Gonzalez, testified at length during the sometimes tedious trial. Among other things, the thugs told jurors that Narcy Novack let them into their hotel suite on the morning of July 12. Her husband, who was asleep, was attacked in his bed with the killers pounding him with hand weights, then binding him with duct tape. His wife, meanwhile, urged them to stay quiet and threw them a pillow to muffle her husbands screams. In a last act of a scorned woman, she ordered them to gouge his eyes with a utility knife. Ultimately, he died of asphyxiation, choking on his own vomit.
At the time of his slaying, Ben Novack Jr. was having an affair with a porn star and stripper, Rebecca Bliss, and his wife feared that her husband would divorce her, leaving her penniless. Months before he was murdered, Narcy Novack called Bliss landlord and informed her that her husband would no longer be paying her rent because he was dead.