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‘Grid Kid’ murder conviction stands: Brooklyn DA

Posted: 9:22 PM, Jan 13, 2015
Updated: 2015-01-14 06:41:03-05

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (PIX11) — A Brooklyn mom who went “undercover” after her son’s 2005 murder conviction, hoping to prove juror misconduct, wept on the phone to PIX11 News Tuesday, the morning after she learned the Brooklyn District Attorney would let the conviction of John Giuca stand in the 2003 “Grid Kid” homicide.

The shooting in the early hours of Oct. 12, 2003, left Fairfield University student Mark Fisher dead on a quiet street in Ditmas Park, hours after he hooked up with college friends at a bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

“I’m at my wit’s end,” Doreen Giuliano, Guica’s mother, cried on the phone.

Kenneth Thompson, the Brooklyn District Attorney who came to office just over a year ago, vowed to review more than 100 questionable convictions, many of them secured during the administration of his predecessor Charles Hynes.

His Conviction Review Unit has already had 10 convictions vacated, believing witnesses may have been coerced and innocent men sent to prison. Thompson’s office affirmed the convictions in 20 other cases, including 18 that involved embattled retired NYPD Detective Lou Scarcella.

Giuca's lawyer Mark Bederow presented a 75-page petition to Thompson's office early last year, claiming his own investigation showed evidence -- including phone records -- were fabricated at Giuca's trial. He offered up the names and statements of three witnesses who recanted their earlier testimony, witnesses who said Giuca was involved in providing shooter Antonio Russo with a gun to rob Fisher.

The 19-year-old college football player had gone to Brooklyn for Giuca's house party after missing his last train home to New Jersey.

Bederow said other witnesses in the case received favorable treatment, including Angel DiPietro -- the daughter of a prominent criminal defense attorney -- who now works in the Brooklyn District Attorney's office as a prosecutor. DiPietro was hired by Hynes.

Thompson's office told the New York Times "recantations have the lowest evidentiary value."

Bederow's petition pointed out the trial prosecutor never told the jury one of her witnesses, a jailhouse snitch, was getting assistance on a criminal case from the DA's office.

The Conviction Review Unit pointed out phone records showed Antonio Russo and John Giuca did not have much contact before the fatal shooting. In the day or so after, there were 26 phone calls logged. When we asked Giuca's mother about this, she responded, "Does that mean John killed somebody or does that mean everyone in the neighborhood is talking about it?"

Giuca's mother and lawyer were troubled that a number of witnesses who heard five gunshots on Statford Road that morning of Oct. 12, 2003, were never called as witnesses.

One of them, Michel Swornik, told PIX11 Investigates he had found Fisher's body wrapped in a yellow blanket in his driveway, after hearing the gunshots "and a van door sliding." Swornik insisted to us that he also heard a female voice on the street with some other men.

Thompson told the Times that Giuca's conviction "doesn't mean there may not have been other people involved."

Giuca has spent 10 years in prison on a 25-years-to-life sentence and learned his conviction would stand Monday night, when he called his mother at home.

"John is devastated," Giuliano said about her son, who's imprisoned near the Canadian border at the Clinton Correctional Facility.

Mark Fisher's parents still believe other people were involved in their son's murder, and they usually return each year to the driveway on Stratford Road in Brooklyn, where their son took his last breath.

A small rock was placed in the garden there, with Mark Fisher's name, the date he died and his age: "19."