ITHACA, N.Y. — The defense attorneys for a man accused of killing Ithaca College student Anthony Nazaire in August filed court documents Friday laying out reasons why they believe their client was lied to while being interrogated and illegally detained.
Nagee Green, 23, is charged and has been indicted for felony second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and second-degree assault.
Police say that during a street brawl at Cornell University on Aug. 28, Green stabbed Raheim Williams three times in his back and fatally stabbed Nazaire once in the chest. Then, Green is alleged to have admitted to the crimes while being interrogated by police on Nov. 7.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Nov. 21. He’s currently still in custody on $100,000 bail.
Green’s attorneys, Joseph Joch and Michael Perehinec, filed an Omnibus Motion in court last week, detailing their legal qualms with the charges against their client.
Among the issues raised in court documents are the following:
A possibly flawed grand jury
Attorneys are requesting access to the grand jury minutes that led to Green’s indictment. In the documents, they state that they want to know if the evidence presented to the jurors was “legally sufficient to support the charge or charges in the indictment.”
They are also requesting the information to determine if the Deputy District Attorney on the case, Andrew Bonavia, provided the jurors with “sufficient legal instruction” or if the jurors might have been impaired by prosecutorial mistakes.
Neither of the attorneys has seen the grand jury minutes to determine if these issues are factual, but the motion formally requests that they are provided with the minutes.
A grand jury is a process that acts as a “test-run” for prosecutors in a case. Defense attorneys are not permitted to be present during the grand jury appearances and the exact findings of the jurors are confidential.
A questionable confession
While police have said that Green confessed during a taped interview that he “stabbed persons known to be Nazaire and Williams,” defense attorneys are saying that the confession was improperly obtained.
“What is not mentioned…is the fact the police lied to Mr. Green, stating that they had video of Mr. Green stabbing Nazaire and that they would show it to him…” the documents state. “No video whatsoever exists of Nagee Green stabbing anyone nor was Mr. Green’s DNA found on any knife located and collected at the scene, both facts being contrary statements made by interrogators during the interview on November 7, 2016.”
The documents state that investigators used “psychological mind games” to get a confession of an intentional killing out of Green. The confession, it states, came after “more than three hours straight of outright lies, exaggerations, false statements and persistent pseudo-logical arguments engaged in by their trained and experienced interrogators.”
Unlawfully arrested and detained?
Green was taken into custody at a Freeville bus stop and interviewed by New York State Police Investigator Richard Haas and Ithaca Police Department Investigator Kevin McKenna.
Defense attorneys are arguing, though, that because there was no video of Green stabbing either of the men and Green’s DNA was not found on the knife collected by officials at the crime scene, he should never have been taken into custody.
The documents state, “…he was picked up by law enforcement personnel while waiting for a bus, and, upon information and belief, placed in the back of a police vehicle, and transported to the New York State Police barracks against his will where an interview was conducted, and during such interview Mr. Green was either not permitted to leave or reasonably believed he was not free to leave.”
The attorneys are requesting a hearing to determine if Green’s arrest and detention were based upon probable cause. If not, they are moving to have the confession not be presented at trial.
What’s in the transcript? Did he confess or not?
The transcript of Green’s interview with police is 73 pages long. It can be read in its entirety in the documents embedded in the story below. But here are the top four important or interesting aspects from the interview transcript made available — other parts of the transcript have not been made available:
- Why did he have a knife?
Green states that the fight was caused after some people, male and female got into an argument that led to an all-out fight.
Investigator: So you were fighting with someone but you don’t know who it was. Why did you pull the knife?
Green: Because that group of people said they were not from here so I didn’t know what they were capable of…It means they can have a weapon on them or not. It can mean a lot of things. It could mean that they’re just bragging because they are tougher than us because they are not from here, things like that.
2. Did anybody else have a knife that night?
Green: I didn’t see anybody else with a knife, no.
Later in the interview:
Green: I wasn’t worried about anybody else and what they had. People could have had knives, they could have, like I don’t know.
3. How did the stabbing happen exactly?
Green said he was pushed to the ground while holding a knife, presumably by Williams, and was hit by Nazaire.
Investigator: At what point did you stab that person? That’s what we need to know.
Green: I didn’t. Like I said, I didn’t stab anybody.
Investigator: Well, how do you suggest that both of these guys got stabbed?
Green: Um, the only person that I would think of accidentally stabbing was the one person who got stabbed multiple times when I tried to get up (Williams). The other guy (Nazaire) I don’t know how he got stabbed.
Later in the interview:
Green: Like I said, they both fell on me. Maybe he (Nazaire) fell on the knife.
Later in the interview:
Green: Like I said I’m going to keep saying, I honestly don’t remember stabbing Anthony. That I will not admit to.
4. What happened to the clothes Green was wearing the night of the homicide?
Investigator: So it’s safe to say that all the clothing from the night is gone?
Green: Mmm, yeah. Those clothes I just threw away just to throw them away.
Investigator: You were just, I’m being blunt about it, you were trying to cover up the fact that something might be on there. Am I correct?
Green: No because there wasn’t anything on them.
Investigator: Well, then why did you throw them out? That’s what I’m getting at.
Green: Because after I found out about the talk of the town that my name got involved in everything, I was just, I didn’t want my clothes anymore. There was nothing on there I just didn’t want my clothes popping up in any cameras or anything.
Editor’s Note: Some readers may find that the descriptions in the embedded document are disturbing. In some instances, the documents are explicit about Nazaire’s stabbing death.
Correction: This story initially incorrectly reported that Kevin McKenna is a NYSP investigator. He is an IPD investigator.