Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Lemrick Nelson Jr. in the Crown Heights murder case, the family of riot victim Yankel Rosenbaum fears that federal prosecutors will renew talks for a plea deal in the racially explosive case.
The two prosecutors who won a conviction of Nelson on civil rights violations in 1997 — overturned on appeal last year — left the office of the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office and the case is now more than 11 years old. The trial, set to begin within the next 60 days, is bound to be the most closely watched in Brooklyn federal court since the Abner Louima brutality case.
That has the Rosenbaum family worried that new U.S. Attorney Rosalind Mauskopf — mindful that witnesses’ memories of the 1991 events are getting hazy — will be willing to accept plea deals with Nelson’s attorneys that were rejected by her predecessor.
“That would cause the family a lot of pain,” said Isaac Abraham, a spokesman for Rosenbaum’s brother, Norman, who lives in Australia.
Nelson was acquitted on state murder charges in 1992, and the Justice Department brought civil rights charges against him four years later. An appeals court last year ruled that an agreement to racially balance the jury in the federal trial was unconstitutional. Nelson’s lawyers then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate the federal law on which he was convicted, avoiding a retrial. The high court announced Monday it would not hear the case.