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  1. #1
    Senior Member Dixie's Avatar
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    Accused Paterson shooter says earlier charge was bogus

    Accused Paterson shooter says earlier charge was bogus
    Friday, August 17, 2007
    BY GUY STERLING
    Star-Ledger Staff

    A man charged with the fatal shooting of a pregnant woman in Paterson last month was out on bail at the time, but Julio Graciano has denied any wrongdoing in the earlier incident and witnesses have given contradictory statements.

    Graciano, 20, of Paterson, is scheduled to return to court today in the murder case. His attorney said the victim's misidentification in the earlier case, a slashing, makes him question whether authorities have the right suspect in the July 28 slaying of Elisha Wordelman.

    "Yes, it gives me pause," defense lawyer John R. Klotz said.

    A Westwood resident, Wordelman was 23 and four months pregnant when she was hit in a drive-by shooting. Graciano was arrested Saturday and charged with murder, four counts of attempted murder and weapons offenses in the shooting outside Riverview Towers. Police say he is a Dominican national who is not a U.S. citizen and worked as a carpenter.

    Authorities have said Wordelman was an innocent bystander who was with a group of friends on Presidential Boulevard when she was shot. She died in a hospital.

    Graciano's bail in the shooting is $1 million, much more than the $25,000 bail (with a 10 percent cash option) that was set June 21 at his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Ralph DeLuccia Jr. in the alleged slashing of a 21-year-old man last year.

    While the Passaic County prosecutor handling the case argued that the bail was too low, Klotz contended it was too high.

    "He should have been released on his own recognizance," Klotz said yesterday.

    Neither side appealed and Sumana Mitra, a senior assistant prosecutor in the trial section of the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office, yesterday described DeLuccia as a fair judge who carefully weighed a variety of factors in setting Graciano's bail.

    Along with the misidentification by the victim was the fact that Graciano voluntarily turned himself in to authorities the same day detectives stopped by his family's home in July 2006 when he wasn't there and left behind their card, Mitra said.

    The slashing with a machete occurred during a fight involving at least seven people outside a residence near Front Street and Paterson Avenue on the night of June 16, 2006, Mitra said. An indictment against Graciano was filed in March. No one else was charged.

    Only the victim's sister put Graciano at the scene, authorities said.

    Klotz said the victim punched his assailant from behind before he was slashed.

    The wound, described in police paperwork as a "severe laceration of the left forearm," required an overnight stay for the victim at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson. Klotz downplayed the injury, contending it caused no permanent damage.

    The defense attorney also expressed confidence that charges in the slashing will be dropped or Graciano will be acquitted, if the case goes to trial. He accused Paterson detectives of improperly advising the victim that he'd picked out the wrong suspect during a photo array and then showing him a photo of Graciano.

    "I can't fathom any of our guys doing that, but I can fathom victims or witnesses changing their stories," Lt. Anthony Traina, a spokesman for the Paterson Police Department.

    He had no comment on Graciano's bail in the alleged slashing.

    Prosecutor James Avigliano said the aggravated assault charge lodged against Graciano in the slashing incident is a third-degree offense carrying a maximum punishment of five years in prison. Aggravated assaults also can be second-degree crimes, a more serious offense.

    The prosecutor said the slashing case was handled no differently from dozens of other cases that come before judges in courthouses around New Jersey each week: Graciano rejected a plea offer in deciding to go to trial and was granted bail.

    "This is the way things happen," Avigliano added. "Everyone's entitled to bail if they meet certain conditions. If they pay the bail, they're out."

    Klotz said he will be seeking a substantial reduction in Graciano's bail at today's hearing in Paterson, at least by half if not all the way down to $100,000.

    "I anticipate the state will argue the open case should be considered against him, but I'm going to say it shouldn't be a factor," Klotz maintained. "That other case is earmarked for some sort of dismissal."

    © 2007 The Star Ledger
    © 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.

    http://www.nj.com/starledger/stories/in ... xml&coll=1
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    Senior Member zeezil's Avatar
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    The wound, described in police paperwork as a "severe laceration of the left forearm," required an overnight stay for the victim at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson. Klotz downplayed the injury, contending it caused no permanent damage.
    ...How the hell can you downplay getting chopped in the arm by a machete? Are you kidding me? Thats like saying... Well, eventhough she was hit by a car, it was only a small car. Or, Well...eventhough she was shot with a bullet, it was a small caliber bullet. What an idiot!!!
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