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Ralph Redding

Other Westchester County, New York exonerations
At about 12:40 a.m. on December 14, 2010, a man knocked on the door of a three-story house at 43 Treno Street in New Rochelle, New York. Inside were six young men and women, five of whom were students at nearby Iona University.

Four of the students, Jack Havens, Jordan Ramos, Veronica Guzman, and Gerilyn Carberry, along with a friend, Christopher Boccio, were watching the movie Apocalypse Now. Upstairs, 20-year-old David Marcus, was studying for final exams.

Havens, who was 6 feet 3 inches tall, went to the door and peeked out the glass at the top. He saw a Black man, who said, “Pizza.”

Thinking that Marcus must have ordered from the nearby Cannone’s Pizza, Havens opened the door. The man lowered the pizza box and pointed a black revolver at Havens’s forehead. Two other Black men rushed in behind the gunman.

The gunman yelled, “Where the f--- is Dave? Where the f--- is the money?”

When Guzman picked up her cell phone, one of the men ordered everyone to put their cell phones down and remain where they were, seated on a sectional couch in front of the television.

Havens later told police that he responded: “I will take you to Dave. I know where he is and he’s upstairs.”

One of the two other men went first up the stairs, followed by Havens, who was trailed by the gunman. The third man remained standing guard over Boccio, Ramos, Carberry, and Guzman.

On the second floor, the door to Marcus’s room was locked. The gunman said, “You have 10 seconds. If he doesn’t open his door, I’m going to blow your brains out.”

Havens told police he shouted, “Dave, for my life, please open this door.”

Havens said he was shoved aside as Marcus opened the door and the two men entered. Havens went downstairs and sat on the couch with the others.

Seconds later, the gunman and the other man came running down the stairs. The third man opened the door and all three fled.

Havens found Marcus upstairs bleeding from a head wound suffered when the gunman smacked him with the butt of the revolver. Marcus said the men took a metal box containing $800.

The gunman was described as about 6 feet to 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing about 230 pounds and wearing a black hoodie with a beanie on his head underneath. The second robber, who went up the stairs, was described as 5 feet 10 to 5 feet 11 inches tall, about 180 pounds, and wearing a gray hoodie with a beanie on his head underneath. No weight or height was given for the third man, though one of the victims said he was the shortest of the three.

After an investigation by the New Rochelle police department, three men were arrested on January 17, 2011.

Twenty-two-old Ralph Redding was accused of being the gunman. Sean Gray, who was 21, was accused to be the one who led Havens up the stairs. Chad Jones, who was 23, was accused of being the third man who remained downstairs. Police said the men had been variously identified by some of the young people in the house.

An empty pizza box from Cannone’s had been sent for testing, but no fingerprints or other evidence had been recovered.

The men were charged with assault, burglary, and robbery.

A hearing on a defense motion to suppress the eyewitness identifications was convened in October 2011 in Westchester County Supreme Court before Justice James Hubert.

Claudio Carpano, the lead detective in the case, was the prosecution’s only witness. He testified that the day after the robbery, he received information from “various sources,” including Ramos, who Carpano claimed had reported that one the persons responsible was known on the street as “YG.”

Carpano said that after talking to other detectives, he learned that Gray was known as “YG.” Carpano said he received an anonymous tip that the gunman was known as “KO.” Carpano said he searched a police database and discovered that Redding was known as KO.

Carpano said he got a mugshot photo of Redding, who had been convicted of a number of misdemeanor offenses in the past, including intimidation of a witness. Carpano said he downloaded a photo of Gray from Gray’s MySpace social media page.

Those photos were used in photographic lineups presented to the witnesses. Over several dates in December and January, Marcus, Boccio, Havens, and Guzman identified Redding and Gray. Carpano said that Jones became a suspect in January when Carberry spontaneously identified Jones as the third man when she looked at Gray’s MySpace page and saw a photo of Jones standing next to Gray.

Carpano said that in January an Iona student named Stephen Wallace had come forward and said that he had been walking on Hubert Place by the university library on the night of the crime when a black sedan pulled up. Wallace said a man in the front passenger seat gave him $10 to buy an empty pizza box from Cannone’s which was on North Avenue at the end of Hubert Place. Wallace said the man said he wanted to play a prank on a girlfriend. Wallace said he went into Cannone’s, bought a box for $1 and walked back to the car where he gave it to the passenger. Carpano said Wallace had identified Redding as the passenger in the car.

Carpano described 13 photo identification procedures: five with Redding, five with Gray and three with Jones.

Justice Hubert denied the motion to suppress the identifications, except for Wallace’s identification. Justice Hubert ruled that the photographic lineup shown to Wallace was impermissibly suggestive because Redding’s photograph was a mugshot, and the filler photos were from social media websites. However, following a separate hearing, the judge ruled there was independent evidence to support Wallace’s identification because his description of the passenger was similar to Redding.

After two days of testimony from Carpano, Jones pled guilty to one count of attempted second-degree robbery and implicated Gray and Redding. Jones was later sentenced to two years in prison.

On October 31, 2011, after a jury had been selected, but before testimony began, Gray pled guilty to one count of robbery. He also implicated Redding and was later sentenced to four years in prison.

The defense challenged the identifications of Redding based on the descriptions of the witnesses that the gunman was over 6 feet tall and about 230 pounds. Redding was 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 170 pounds.

Havens testified and identified Redding as the gunman. “I will never forget the face,” Havens told the jury.

Boccio testified that he was a longtime friend of Marcus’s, worked as a line cook in a restaurant, and was crashing on the couch at the house for a few weeks. He also identified Redding as the gunman.

Marcus identified Redding as the gunman who had struck him over the head with the revolver. He said that he had $800 in cash in the box.

Guzman also identified Redding as the gunman. Wallace testified and identified Redding as the man who gave him $10 to get an empty pizza box.

The defense called a cousin of Redding, Kashiem Johnson, who testified that Redding was at home with him and Johnson’s mother, Wendy Taylor, in Hempstead, New York, on Long Island, about 30 miles from the crime.

Redding testified, denied involvement in the crime, and denied he asked anyone to get him an empty pizza box.

He admitted that he knew Gray and Jones from having grown up in the same neighborhood in New Rochelle. He said that Jones, who had been described by the witnesses as the shortest of the three, was about 6 feet three or 6 feet four inches tall.

Asked by his defense attorney about misdemeanor crimes for which he had been convicted in the past, Redding said, “Yes, but I did not commit this crime.”

“I didn’t do nothing to these people,” Redding declared. “I did not do it.”

On November 9, 2011, the jury convicted Redding of one count of assault, two counts of robbery, and two counts of burglary.

At his sentencing, Redding was adamant that he had been wrongly convicted.

“I’m sorry for what happened to these victims, but I did not commit this crime,” he said. “I did not enter these people’s house with a gun and demand the money…the cops got the wrong guy. Whoever told the police I committed this crime is wrong….I’m innocent and I was definitely not going to take the plea to implicate my codefendants because I wasn’t there that night.”

Redding quarreled with Justice Hubert, who noted that Redding was “having a hard time embracing the truth, the truth about yourself.”

“I’m telling the truth,” Redding retorted.

The judge said Redding didn’t care about his co-defendants, who were “doing time because of what you did, because of what you got them to do. You don’t care about that. You don’t care about anything.”

“I didn’t commit this crime,” Redding said. “And I don’t care about the co-defendants…I have no reason to lie.”

“Yes, you do,” the judge replied. “You have every reason to lie. You’ve got nothing but reasons to lie.”

“I don’t have no reason to lie,” Redding said. “God knows what happened that night.”

“Don’t invoke God’s name,” the judge snapped.

“Because you [are] wrong,” Redding said. “I know you [are] wrong for a fact.”

As the judge was reviewing the charges and possible penalties with the prosecutor, Redding interrupted.

“The system is corrupted,” Redding declared. “Railroaded me the whole time. …do I look 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds? Common sense. Use your head. Yo, DA, you got the wrong guy.”

“Everybody’s wrong except you,” the judge said.

He then sentenced Redding to 12 years in prison.

“I’m going to come back on appeal,” Redding said. “Get your millions up. The system is corrupt. You the devil, man. I don’t even know why they got that ‘In God we trust’ behind you.”

In 2013, while the case was still on appeal, his appellate lawyer filed a post-conviction petition seeking to vacate the convictions.

The petition said that Redding’s defense lawyer had failed to call other alibi witnesses who could have buttressed Johnson’s testimony about Redding’s whereabouts at the time of the crime. The petition said the defense failed to subpoena Redding’s cell phone records to show that he was not on Treno Street that night or video surveillance that would have shown Redding at the home in Hampstead at the time of the crime. The petition said the defense failed to cross-examine Marcus about hospital records showing that Marcus told emergency room personnel that he had suffered a loss of memory.

The petition said that the defense had failed to cross-examine Carpano during the suppression hearing about statements he had made to a lawyer for one of the co-defendants that Marcus was a drug dealer and that drugs had been found at the house on a subsequent occasion.

Significantly, the petition said the defense had failed to subpoena Ramos, one of the youths in the house that night who lived elsewhere with two roommates: Greg Black and Matt Carroll. Ramos, the petition said, said Black was a drug addict who owed money to YG (Gray). The petition said that Ramos had told police that he believed Black had orchestrated the crime because he knew Marcus had money. Gray, the petition noted, drove a black sedan similar to the car that Wallace said approached him about buying the pizza box.

Moreover, the petition said that Carroll should have been called as witness because Carroll also had provided a statement to police about Black and Gray being the “masterminds” of the crime.

That motion ultimately was denied. In 2014, Redding’s convictions were upheld on appeal.

In 2017, Redding filed a federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus. That was denied in 2020.

In 2021, Redding requested a review of the case by the Conviction Review Unit (CRU) of Westchester County. In November 2022, following a reinvestigation of the case, Anastasia Heeger, an assistant district attorney and CRU chief, filed an affirmation in support of a defense motion to vacate Redding’s convictions.

Heeger reported that the police had failed to disclose evidence to the prosecution—and consequently—the defense at the time of Redding’s trial.

This included a memorandum in which Carpano said that he had obtained video surveillance from the pizzeria showing that 20 minutes before the crime, a white male had purchased a pizza box. Carpano claimed that he had learned the name of the person by investigating a “unique colorful pair of sneakers” worn by the purchaser. Carpano said that he found the person on Facebook and then used Facebook photos of the purchaser’s “associates” to create photographic lineups from which Havens, Marcus, Boccio and Guzman identified Redding, Gray and Jones.

Wallace, the person who testified that he bought the pizza box, was Black.

A still photo from the surveillance video had been provided to the defense that showed the pizza purchaser from the neck down. Heeger said a second video had been discovered that showed two white men who were given pizza boxes 45 seconds before Wallace entered. This information could have been used to impeach Carpano.

In addition, two police reports were discovered, which Heeger said had not been disclosed to the prosecution, nor to Redding’s defense lawyer. The reports said that Greg Black, who was white, had been interviewed in relation to an unrelated home invasion and the distribution of drugs. The reports said that two of Black’s friends said that detectives had accused Black of being involved in the crime and that he had been identified “by his shoes.”

Although the report said that Black had been taken to the police station for interrogation, no report of that interview was found.

“While the People were aware that the police thought Black might have been involved with the crime in some way, they were not provided with any reports that Black had actually been questioned and—according to Black’s friends—accused of being involved in the crime,” Heeger reported.

The CRU investigation also discovered that in the days after the robbery, police investigated possible drug activity at the house at 43 Treno Street where the robbery had occurred. A confidential informant said that large quantities of marijuana were being delivered there from California every two or three weeks. Havens, the report noted, was from California.

At least one search had been performed at the house. While a small amount of marijuana had been found, no arrests were made for “discretionary reasons.”

The CRU interviewed Wallace, who said that Carpano had shown him a photographic lineup. He said that while Redding looked like the person who asked him to buy the pizza box, he felt that the identification proceeding “felt guided.” According to Heeger’s report, Wallace “recalled that Det. Carpano told him Redding’s photo displayed that ‘he’s a scary-looking guy.’”

On November 28, 2022, Redding’s attorney, John Lewis, filed a motion to vacate Redding’s convictions, saying that he agreed that the prosecution had failed to disclose the evidence. He said that the CRU had “painstakingly detailed multiple discovery violations and contradictions…Taken in totality, they portray an extremely improper and unjust prosecution and conviction.”

On January 16, 2023, the motion to vacate the convictions was granted, the charges were dismissed, and Redding was released.

In February 2024, Redding filed a federal civil rights case against City of New Rochelle and police officers.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/20/2024
Last Updated: 4/10/2024
State:New York
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Additional Convictions:Assault, Burglary/Unlawful Entry
Reported Crime Date:2010
Sentence:12 years
Age at the date of reported crime:22
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No