Lead prosecutor Elliott Jacobson, assisted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember, methodically laid out their case, detailing a trail of bank receipts, cell phone records and even video that tracked the killers in the months and weeks before and after the murders. Cristobal Veliz, the point man who did the hiring, had claimed during several courtroom outbursts that the real killer behind the scheme was Abad.
Abad, who did not testify, accused her mother and uncle of turning the case into a circus. That so-called circus included testimony from a private detective hired by her mother who picked through Abad’s garbage looking for evidence tying her to the crimes.
But in the end, the jury didn’t buy theories outlined by defense attorneys Tanner and Larry Sheehan, who argued that the hired killers were lying to save their own skin and that Abad had framed her mother so that her sons would inherit the Novack estate.
The jury seemed to be struggling in recent days with the task of finding a verdict while poring over a dizzying indictment that includes so many charges, elements, theories, acts and conspiracies that it would leave a law professor shaking his head.
The single acquittal apparently came after jurors got hung up on a key piece of evidence: a gold bracelet worn by Novack Jr., with the name “Ben” spelled out in diamonds. Prosecutors alleged that the sparkling trinket was stolen from his body and that that single act of robbery went to the heart of the felony murder conviction. Jurors apparently weren’t convinced.
Tanner, whose client sat in a holding cell during the reading of the verdict “for reasons best known to her,” said he felt some vindication over the acquittal on the single count of felony murder.
“The jury obviously struggled with the governments theory that he was robbed,” Tanner said, adding that his client will weigh whether to file an appeal.
The Associated Press and The Journal News of Westchester County (N.Y.) contributed to this story.