Two inmates serving time for a notorious 1995 murder that the feds say the pair didn’t commit will continue rotting behind bars after a Bronx judge said he didn’t have the power to grant them bail.
Judge Efrain Alvarado rejected a plan endorsed by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office to release the convicts to house arrest pending resolution of their case, defense lawyers said yesterday.
Prosecutors had even made arrangements to buy a pair of electronic monitoring bracelets so Eric Glisson and Cathy Watkins could get their first taste of freedom in 17 years, defense lawyer Peter Cross said.
“To say the least, I was extremely disappointed that the court — seeing that the district attorney was willing to do this — refused to exercise the power that we certainly think it has to do justice,” Cross said.
Cross said he fears that Alvarado’s decision means that his client, Glisson, could remain in Sing Sing prison for a year or more while the case plays out.
“Sing Sing is not a safe place, and I’m very concerned about Eric’s safety up there,” he said.
Cross also said Glisson was baffled when Cross gave him the bad news after Thursday’s court session in The Bronx.
“Eric could just not understand why the judge was not willing to grant bail under these circumstances, and I had a hard time explaining to him the situation,” he said.
Watkins’ lawyer, Paul Casteleiro, said he wasn’t surprised that the bail plan fell through but called it “a positive sign” that prosecutors had signed on.
Casteleiro said the move was a “pretty substantial concession” to the merits of Glisson’s and Watkins’ claims of innocence.
Alvarado didn’t return a call, but a spokesman for the state court system said the judge’s hands were tied.
“There’s no provision under the law to make a bail application at this point, when a defendant is still serving a sentence,” spokesman David Bookstaver said.
Glisson and Watkins are among five people convicted in the murder of Baithe Diop, who was fatally shot during a wave of deadly cabby robberies in the mid-1990s.
But after Glisson sent a letter to the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office insisting that Diop was murdered by members of a violent drug gang called Sex, Money and Murder, investigator John O’Malley figured out the real killers were two turncoat gang members — Gilbert Vega and Jose Rodriguez — who had confessed to shooting a cabby in the Bronx in 1994 or 1995.
Earlier this month, Glisson and Watkins — armed with an affidavit from O’Malley — filed court papers to have their convictions tossed, with the next court hearing scheduled for Oct. 19.
Meanwhile, Bronx prosecutors are attempting to arrange interviews with Vega and Rodriguez through the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office, said Steven Reed, a spokesman for the Bronx DA’s Office.
A spokeswoman for the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office declined to comment.
The three other people convicted in Diop’s murder are also serving time for murdering FedEx executive Denise Raymond, which authorities at the time said was connected.