Statement at Sentencing:
“Your honor, with all due respect, I know the court is going to expect me to express remorse for the crime which I have been convicted of. However, I have been wrongly convicted and what has happened to me is a gross miscarriage of Justice. Although I am very sorry for the Rutelege families loss, I cannot show remorse for a murder I didn’t commit. I am actually and factually innocent!
The people’s key witness sat on the stand and admitted he wrote me a letter dated 12/09/04, asking me to say I was with them when they killed Mr. Rutelege. If I was with James Hampton murdering Mr. Rutelege, why would he need to ask me in writing to implicate myself in the homicide?
Moreover, while James Hampton testified he also admitted he wrote the letter my attorney presented to him dated 1/22/05, saying he lied in his statement and he played the police to get free phone calls and Chinese food.
In addition, the people’s witness Ms. Crimes testimony conflicted with the statement she gave to the police 19 years earlier. On 6/07/92 Ms. Crimes gave a statement to the police a day after the homicide stating the victim came into a bar called Henri’s in the town of Albion with 3 black men who she did not recognize. At no time did Ms. Crimes say she saw the victim with a woman. Ms. Crimes entire testimony was proved to be a lie under cross examination.
The prosecutor acted like a witness during the trial when he told the jury that it was my voice rapping on the tape when the expert witness testified that he did not do a voice analysis to establish that it was indeed my voice rapping on the tape. The [prosecutor told the jury that the tape was a confession I made after the homicide June 6th, 1992, when he had no evidence to support the finding. in addition, the expert witness testified that he had no proof when the tape was made.
Most rap songs are full of drugs, violence and sex which is a black cultural artistic expression. In the African American community, which is often referred to as the ghetto, is surrounded by poverty. My people sometimes live in dilapidated conditions and are often exposed to sex, violence and drugs. It is therefore common for an African American from the inner city who rap, to rap about their environment. This does not make the rapper a killer.
However, a jury of 11 whites and 1 black from the suburbs would not understand that. I was not tried by a jury of my peers, I was tried by a jury of the prosecutors peers. That’s why Mr. Cardone was able to give his peers his own interpretation of what the song in which he had no proof I made meant, and he convinced the jury of his peers to convict me of a crime I did not commit.
This conviction was not supported by the evidence presented. As the evidence was witnesses who were not credible and proved to be liars, a highly prejudicial rap song that had nothing to do with any homicide, a gun James Hampton admitted he put in my car two weeks after the homicide.
The prejudicial rap song was never authenticated, and had a fraudulent transcription. The person who transcribed the tape was never brought in Court to be confronted. The language in the tape which the prosecutor took out of context was used to vilify me as the perpetrator of this horrific crime.
Ineffective assistance of counsel
There are many poor Black people in prison rotting in cages with lengthy sentences for crimes they did not commit, because they could not afford to pay for adequate assistance. In my case I had four strikes against me.
1. I am Black
2.I am poor.
3. I am incarcerated, and
4. I am a woman
This Court assigned Mr. Dolgoff to me two years ago and in that two years I wrote Mr. Dolgoff numerous letters begging him to come visit me so that we could adequately prepare for trial. Mr. Dolgoff ignored my pleas and never came to Bedford Hills Correctional Facility to see me.
He finally came to see me one time in Albion, Sept. 2010, to tell me about my co-defendants trial and subsequent acquittal. This visit only lasted for about 30 to 40 minutes. I wrote Mr. Dolgoff several times asking him to assist me in proving that I was some place else when this crime happened. Had he listened to me and spoke to the witnesses, I could have proved to this court that I did not commit this crime.
In this Country we supposedly revere the concepts of freedom, Justice and equality. Perhaps it is time that we add a new word to the list of concepts we revere. That word is hypocrisy!
From Mr. Dolgoffs performance during my trial I could tell he really wanted to win. But, due to the fact he only visited me one time for 30 to 40 minutes and did not adequately prepare for trial, I was doomed.
I was raped, railroaded and bamboozled. I will not stand here and say that someone should go unpunished for the crime which was committed. What I am saying is that I am innocent and should not be held accountable for a murder I did not commit.
I hope that the real perpatrators will be arrested and rbought to justice for the murder of Mr. Rutelege. Again, I am sorry for the Rutelege family’s loss.