Reasons for the three year delay in the Draymond Coleman murder trial
The other day we discussed the July 2006 murder in which a 300 pound career criminal named Draymond Coleman induced the 5”1’, 18-year-old, intoxicated, and distraught Jennifer Moore to get in a cab with him on the West Side of Manhattan, whence he took her to his hotel room in Weehawken, New Jersey, where he raped and sodomized her then beat and strangled her to death while his 20 year old hooker girl friend Krystal Riordan looked on. We wondered about the disposition of the case, and a reader sent a January 26, 2009 item from NorthJersey.com, which included this:
WHAT’S NEXT: Indicted for their roles in the murder, Coleman and Riordan remain in the Hudson County Jail. Coleman’s bail is $2 million and Riordan’s is $1 million.Meaning that over three years will have passed between the arrest of Coleman in July 2006 and the beginning of his trial in perhaps fall 2009. And all this time for an open-and-shut case in which the suspect was taped by a security camera bringing the victim into the hotel, and was arrested the day after the murder because he was using the victim’s cell phone.
I wrote back to the reader:
Late spring or early fall? What happened to the summer? Does the criminal justice system in New Jersey shut down between June 21 and September 21? It’s horrible. In a well ordered society, after a murder like this, there would be a trial within a few months at most.So I called Michael D’Andrea at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s office yesterday. He was very informative and readily told me the reasons for the long time it takes to get to trial.
First, this was a capital indictment, and New Jersey had been in the process of eliminating capital punishment. Even though no one has been executed in New Jersey for 30 or 40 years, all capital cases were held in abeyance until the new law was passed last year, which replaced the death penalty with life without parole. That was a year’s delay.
Also, various motions were made, including pre-trial motions and 15 to 20 motions made by defense, each of which took time to resolve.
Then there was extensive forensic testing, which took time.
Also, the computer forensic specialists had to get the hard drive of the computer system in the hotel where the murder took place and that took time. It also took time to get hotel hard drive compatible with the computers of the attorneys.
Then the judge was transferred away from the case, and it started all over with another judge who had to be brought up to speed.
When I expressed my dismay that a straightforward murder case should take several years to come to trial, Mr. D’Andrea said: “You don’t want to rush to judgment, you should want to give defendants the chance to avail themselves of all constitutional protections. You don’t want mistakes to be made.”
One thing I did not ask him about: he had made it sound as though each of these delays occurred consecutively instead of concurrently. Do the prosecutors wait for one thing to be resolved, such as a defense motion, and only then proceed to another thing, such as getting the hard drive of the hotel compatible with attorneys’ computers, instead of dealing with these tasks at the same time? That was the way it sounded. It seems clear to me that the criminal justice system’s idea of proper and just procedure is not to bring an accused murderer to trial while the murder is still fresh, but to stretch things out as long as humanly possible, to make everyone wait until the murder has become a distant thing in the past and the victim’s body has long since rotted in the ground.
I also asked Mr. D’Andrea why the trial could not start during the summer. He said that summer is a difficult time to pick a jury, especially for a long trial. Police officers, medical professionals and so on are away on vacation. However, short trials are conducted in the summer.
Leonard D. writes:
One possible reason why the prosecution is so lackadaisical in this case is that the longer they wait, the more bitter Krystal Riordan may become at her situation. Perhaps they need her testimony. The evidence they have makes a charge of murder two a sure thing. But maybe not rape, and not murder one. Riordan’s testimony is probably the only thing they have for those.LA replies:
You write:Leonard D. replies:
It seems that you rate retribution higher than the other goals. And you want that retribution to include death for murderers, which I agree with you on in the abstract, although I am not very keen for it in our current justice system because too many mistakes are made.LA replies:
No, there’s more to this case than what you’re saying. We don’t know that he’ll get life without parole. Another commenter suggested that one of the reasons for the long delay in coming to trial is the hope of coaxing a fuller confession from Krystal Riordan, so as to assure a Murder One conviction (with a punishment of life without parole) for Coleman rather than Murder Two. So it’s not assured that he’ll get life without parole. Nothing is assured in murder cases.March 27
David B. writes:
Here is the wikipedia entry for Hudson County, New Jersey. It says that by 2005, the population was 34.6 percent non-Hispanic whites, 15.1 percent black, 11 percent Asian, 41 percent Hispanic (many of these Cuban), two percent “other.”Lydia McGrew writes:
Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 26, 2009 08:41 PM | Send