ITHACA, N.Y. — The case of Nagee Green — who has been on trial for murder and assault — is now in the jury’s hands.

The prosecution and defense wrapped up closing arguments Tuesday afternoon after one week of testimony. The prosecution rested its case Monday, and the defense rested its case Tuesday morning without calling any witnesses.

Green, 23, has been on trial for murder and assault in connection with the death of 19-year-old Anthony Nazaire and stabbing of Raheim Williams in August. On the night of Aug. 27, Green, Nazaire, Williams and hundreds of others attended a party at Cornell University. After the party let out, in the early morning of Aug. 28, a brawl broke out after someone bumped a woman, witnesses said.

It was during the fighting that Nazaire was fatally stabbed in the chest. Williams was stabbed three times in the back, but survived.

District Attorney Matthew Van Houten said the death of Nazaire was a “tragedy” and a “murder.” Nazaire had just begun his sophomore year at Ithaca College, and had turned 19 just a few days before.

Prosecutors allege Nazaire and Williams were stabbed by Green.

In opening statements, defense attorney Joseph Joch said the “dots don’t connect” in this case, and he repeated that statement again in closing arguments. He accused prosecutors of “cherry picking” evidence to fit their theory of what happened.

Defense attorney Michael Perehinec pointed out that among the seven people who were present during the fighting and testified, no one saw Nazaire stabbed.

“Not one of them saw anything,” Perehinec said.

Perehinec said it is the job of the government to connect the dots and prove Green stabbed Nazaire with intent to murder him. He asked how they had connected the dots that Green stabbed Nazaire.

“They didn’t do it through eye witness testimony,” Perehinec said.

Both sides agree that Green had a knife the night of the incident. Joch said the biggest mistake Green made that night was bringing a knife. Perehinec said that does not make Green a murderer.

However, prosecutors said Green’s intent that night began when he brought a knife, which they characterize as a “military-style knife” to a college party. One witness, Daniel Nunez, testified that he saw the knife in Green’s hand as they fought. He said he also heard Green say, “I kill out here.”

Perehinec said saying “I kill out here” might have been trash talking, but it does not show intent.

“Nagee Green is innocent,” Perehinec said.

District Attorney Matthew Van Houten delivers closing arguments Tuesday. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice
District Attorney Matthew Van Houten delivers closing arguments Tuesday. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

However, prosecutors said bringing the knife to the party and bringing it out during a fight does show intent.

“The defendant pulled out the knife for one purpose and one purpose only, he intended to kill someone. And he did,” Van Houten said.

In closing statements that took about three hours combined, prosecutors and defense attorneys went through evidence and testimony presented throughout the trial.

Joch spent time discussing a three-hour interview between two investigators and Green after he was arrested in November. He said the investigators used false evidence to get Green to confess. Investigators told Green that they had everybody’s DNA on the knife. However, only Williams’ DNA was found on the knife.

Joch said the interview was “designed to destroy his confidence and his own memory. [Green] must have believed after a time that his memory was wrong. They got him to the point of believing he must have accidentally stabbed Anthony Nazaire.”

Throughout the trial, the jury has been shown a number of videos, including the interview with investigators and several short Snapchat videos.

On Friday and Monday, jurors watched a three-hour interview with Green, Ithaca Police Department Investigator Kevin McKenna and New York State Police Investigator Richard Haas. In the interview, Green initially told investigators he did not stab anybody. But after further questioning, Green said that Nazaire and Williams fell on him during the fight and “maybe he (Nazaire) fell on the knife.”

While the defense argues that Green got the point in the interview where he was doubting his own memory, prosecutors argue that Green finally got to the point where he was telling the truth.

“Let’s be clear Nagee Green stabbed Anthony Nazaire,” Van Houten said. “It was not an accident.”

Van Houten told jurors to use their common sense when deliberating the case. Joch told jurors they must decide if there is enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and he implored the jury not to make a decision on emotional grounds.

Court will resume at 9 a.m. and the jury will begin deliberating after Judge John Rowley gives instructions.

Miss a story? Catch up on coverage of the case below

Featured image: From left, defense attorney Michael Perehinec sits beside defendant Nagee Green. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Editor’s note: Attorney Michael Perehinec is on The Ithaca Voice Board of Directors. We do not feel that this has influenced our coverage. Please contact Managing Editor Jolene Almendarez atjalmendarez@ithacavoice.comwith comments or concerns. 

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.