Nick Hentoff - New York Criminal Defense Lawyer - Death Penalty Trial News Coverage

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Article About Nick Hentoff's opening statement in a 2002 death penalty trial as reported in a local Phoenix Arizona newspaper. Nick Hentoff was representing the Native American defendant pro bono.
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   Defense attacks key witness's credibility   By Doug Murphy   Staff Writer   The defense came out swinging Monday afternoon during opening statements in the murder   trial of Kenrick Vincent.   Vincent is one of three Gila River Indian Reservation residents arrested for the November   2000 slaying of Larry Vannoy, a 66-year-old Ahwatukee Foothills man.   Where we're going is a not guilty verdict for my client, because he wasn't there, defense   attorney Nick Hentoff told the jury of six men and nine women.   Hentoff, one of two attorneys defending Vincent, then questioned the credibility of the state's   star witness, 16-year-old Dale Whitman, who has admitted to being present when Vannoy   was killed and agreed to testify against Vincent in a plea agreement.   Vincent, 27, faces first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery charges. If found guilty   Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Padish could sentence him to death by lethal   injection.   Prosecutor Noel Levy, in his opening statement to the jury, admitted that Whitman stabbed   Vannoy while the truck was traveling down Interstate-10 to Maricopa Road. But when the   truck finally stopped near the Wild Horse Pass Casino, it was Vincent who used a homemade   machete to kill Vannoy, hacking at him at least a dozen times.   That detail, and much of what Levy said in his opening statement, came from interviews and   the expected testimony of Whitman.   The teen, who could have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder,   pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in December.   In return for the lesser charge, Whitman is scheduled to testify June 11 against Vincent,   something that Hentoff stressed in his opening statement.   A young man, a (then) 15-year-old boy, simply threw his life away. And once he did that the   family had to find a way to get that life back, said Hentoff, who questioned Whitman's   credibility.    Hentoff stressed that while there is overwhelming physical evidence that Whitman and   22-year-old James Cooper were in the truck and at the scene of the murder, none exists   when it comes to Mr. Vincent.   He also stressed that many of the witnesses who will testify about the trio's actions before the   murder, are relatives of Whitman.   But Levy told the jury that Vincent's own mother told investigators that her son came to her   house two days after the murder, telling her that I'm in big trouble. I may never see you   again.   It took police 11 days to find and arrest Vincent after Vannoy's body was discovered.   A jury found Cooper guilty of first-degree murder, robbery and a lesser charge of unlawful   imprisonment in March. He could also receive the death penalty, and is awaiting sentencing   in August.   Whitman faces sentencing in August and could face between 16 and 22 years for second-   degree murder.   Because of scheduling conflicts there will be no testimony on June 12 or 13. The trial is   expected to last three weeks.   The reporter can be reached at (480) 898-7914 or by e-mail at dmurphy@aztrib.com.   Copyright © 2001 Ahwatukee Foothills News  
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