In September 1981, 18-year-old Julie Monson disappeared after leaving a party in Auburn, New York. Her remains were discovered in April 1983 in the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, about 15 miles away.
In 1985, Thomas Bianco, the victim’s former boyfriend who was 19 when Monson disappeared, was arrested and charged with murder.
In the spring of 1986 Bianco went on trial in Cayuga County Supreme Court. Thomas Calescibetta testified for the prosecution that he was one of Bianco’s friends and that Bianco had confessed to him that he had killed Monson. Other witnesses testified they saw Bianco with Monson shortly before she disappeared.
The prosecution argued that Bianco killed the victim after she refused his sexual advances. On March 12, 1986, a jury convicted Bianco of second-degree murder and kidnapping and he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
After Bianco’s conviction, his attorneys discovered that the prosecution had concealed a witness statement pointing to another suspect, and other statements describing a man other than Bianco who was seen with the victim before her disappearance.
Prosecutors also failed to disclose that Calescibetta had spoken to police several times before mentioning Bianco’s confession. Calescibetta recanted his testimony in 1992, and said that prosecutors pressured him to testify against Bianco.
After hearing the recantation, Justice Patrick Monserrate ruled that the prosecution had improperly withheld evidence. He vacated Bianco’s conviction and Bianco was released from prison. However, in November 1992, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court overturned Monserrate and re-instated the conviction. Bianco was returned to prison.
In March 1993, Monserrate vacated the conviction again and dismissed the charges because of prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutor announced he would not retry Bianco and Bianco was released.
– Maurice Possley