Five teen de­fen­dants ar­rested in Brook­lyn rape case are re­leased as in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Ryan Sit, Gra­ham Ray­man

Brook­lyn District At­tor­ney Ken Thomp­son has or­dered the re­lease of the five teenage de­fen­dants in the rape of a girl at a Brook­lyn play­ground as the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the murky case con­tin­ues.

The five de­fen­dants in the case — Travis Beck­ford, 17; Onandi Brown, 17; Ethan Phillip, 15; Shaque­lle Cooper, 15; and Den­zel Mur­ray, 14 — will be re­leased if they have not al­ready made bail.

“Be­cause we are de­ter­mined to get to the truth about what hap­pened in that park, we need more time to in­ves­ti­gate this com­plex case and gather more ev­i­dence,” Thomp­son said. “There­fore, we have con­sented to the de­fen­dants’ re­lease.”

Spencer Leeds, the lawyer for Brown, who was or­dered held on $25,000 bond, ap­plauded the move.

“Mr. Thomp­son did a very de­cent thing by call­ing and agree­ing to have him cut from prison be­fore the fam­ily put a bail pack­age to­gether,” Leeds said.

“We be­lieve af­ter a full and fair in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete, Onandi will be ex­on­er­ated.”

Mean­while, the twists and turns of the case have even Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Bill Brat­ton think­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors haven’t yet got­ten to the bot­tom of it.

The five teens are charged with rape and as­sault in the al­leged Jan­uary 7 at­tack on an 18-year-old woman in Brownsville’s Os­born play­ground. But the case has ap­peared to weaken in re­cent days.

“The first story is never the last story,” Brat­ton said Thurs­day. “I think in this case that’s cer­tainly the case or will prove to be the case.”

Brat­ton didn’t elab­o­rate on how he ex­pects the story to change, but said de­tec­tives are re­view­ing a cell phone video, taken by one of the ac­cused teens.

“It’s 9 to 11 sec­onds. I be­lieve it’s been re­trieved from one of the cell phones of the young men be­ing in­ves­ti­gated in this mat­ter,” he said. “It is a sig­nif­i­cant piece of ev­i­dence as we try to piece to­gether what hap­pened.”

Rel­a­tives of one of the young sus­pects have said the video sug­gests the sex was con­sen­sual.

Brat­ton said he’s been in con­tact with Brook­lyn District At­tor­ney Ken Thomp­son.

“I spoke at length with Ken yes­ter­day as that case is go­ing for­ward so we’ll just have to wait over the next sev­eral days as the in­ter­views con­tinue and they try to put to­gether ex­actly what hap­pened,” he said.

De­tec­tives have yet to re­ceive the re­sults of a rape kit, he said. It could take more than a week for the test­ing to be fin­ished.

Ini­tial re­ports in the case de­scribed a hor­rific scene in which a young woman was raped at gun­point by the five teens while her father des­per­ately searched for a po­lice of­fi­cer.

How­ever, two of the teens claimed they saw the father hav­ing sex with the girl as they ap­proached. They said their sex with her was con­sen­sual. In ad­di­tion, nei­ther the father nor the daugh­ter could pick out any of the five teens in line­ups.

And then there was the video.

The case has also been fraught with claims that the NYPD failed to tell the pub­lic in a timely man­ner.

Lawyers for the youths have com­pared the case to the 1989 pros­e­cu­tion of the Cen­tral Park Five, in which black teens were wrongly con­victed of rape.

“The pros­e­cu­tion’s case is get­ting weaker, not stronger,” said 17-year-old sus­pect Travis Beck­ford’s lawyer, Deb­bie Sil­ber­man, on Wed­nes­day.

Den­zel Mur­ray, front, Ethan Phillip and Shaquell Cooper, three of five sus­pects in the rape of an 18-year-old woman on Satur­day, were led into Cen­tral Book­ing on Scher­mer­horn Street in Brookyn

on Tues­day.

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