This station is part of Cox Media Group Television. Second, he admitted that their marriage was unhappy and virtually over, and that his own anger had reached a level tempting him toward violence against her because he was so frustrated by the strife between them. The proof is most telling that on the very day the victim disappeared, she intended to confront defendant with her decision to leave him. Through the testimony of several witnesses, including four expert witnesses-New York City's Chief Medical Examiner, an experienced New York City Police Pilot, an aviation safety inspector, and an airline transport pilot/flight instructor/FAA flight test examiner-the People established that it was physically possible for defendant, a surgical resident and pilot, unassisted, to disarticulate a recently expired body of the victim's size (5ft. We further determine that the instant body of consciousness of guilt evidence-because of its quality and quantity-exhibits a guilty mind, a finding which, in this context and under these circumstances, is surely not weak, or, for that matter, even moderate. In that 1858 case, the Court of Appeals held, without direct proof of the death, or of the violence or other act of the defendant which is alleged to have produced death, a murder conviction may not stand (id. Robert Bierenbaum admitted to killing wife Gail Katz and throwing her body out of an airplane during a December 2020 parole board hearing, according to a new Indeed, defendant himself told his father in 1983 that their strife had reached the point of some physical contact, and there is credible testimony that in 1985 defendant was so filled with hostility that he was tempted toward violence against his wife. A trial court must not merely count the number of past incidents, but it must engage in a qualitative assessment of the words and deeds which create the history of the relationship between defendant and alleged victim. That was the overwhelming opinion of those closest to her, including her gynecologist, her therapist of three years, and her sister, three confidantes in the best position to know. We recognize that as a general proposition false statements are a relevant but weak form of evidence. He thus argues that her ruling necessarily extends to preclude the People from also proving the existence and nature of the Tarasoff letter. ABC News reports that Robert Bierenbaum, who is serving 20 years-to-life in prison for murdering his wife Gail Katz, confessed to the crime during a Dec. 2020 parole I heard the cuffs close round hishands. She was also determined to make it clear to defendant that she would use a letter, written to her by his psychiatrist warning her of the danger he posed to her, in order to humiliate him with his professional peers should he refuse to meet her divorce settlement demands. 79 N.Y.2d 673, 584 N.Y.S.2d 770, 595 N.E.2d 845 [uncharged evidence of prior assaultive acts may be admissible as background to support testimony that otherwise might be unbelievable or suspect]). Those opinions, contrary to defendant's argument, did not endanger the jury's objectivity, as the record in no way suggests that they were delivered in anything other than a dispassionate and brief manner. 576 ratings36 reviews. of Cal., supra, at p. 442, 131 Cal.Rptr. Powered by. In the days, weeks, months and years following his wife's disappearance, defendant made several inconsistent, unfounded or otherwise suspect and incriminating statements. Psychiatrist's Warning Letter and Other Hearsay. To reject any notion that the victim intended to use the letter a second time simply because she may have already used it once before would unreasonably ignore her various statements, her reasons for wanting a divorce, and her state of mind as that fateful weekend approached. Indeed, his behavior utterly belies his claims of ignorance of his victim's whereabouts. To yet another, he described his missing wife as a tramp, off living with someone else. Gail Katz Bierenbaum Murder: Her Cause of Death, Copyright 2023 Heavy, Inc. All rights reserved. From the beginning, they quarreled frequently. The Washington State Department of Corrections acknowledges that its facilities, offices and operations are on the ancestral lands and customary territories of Indigenous Peoples, Tribes and Nations. Defendant counters this reasoning, contending that the 1983 choking incident and all the other evidence and references to threats and marital strife should have been precluded because they bespeak propensity and because the People improperly used the choking incident to suggest that defendant had a propensity for violence. He also failed to mention to both Det. Jake Massey. However, the trial justice specifically stated her ruling did not apply to preclude the letter's existence and nature. Robert Bierenbaum was sentenced to 20 years to life and is currently incarcerated at New Yorks Attica Correctional Facility. Third, he argues that the trial justice should have precluded, and that the prosecutor inappropriately used, evidence that defendant choked his wife rendering her unconscious in the autumn of 1983, including evidence of her statements to her cousin over the phone, which the court admitted as excited utterances.. When he exhibited hesitation in responding to her, she jokingly asked him if he had killed his wife. When one applies the appropriate legal principles, these conclusions become most compelling for a rational, dispassionate and attentive fact finder. Furthermore, on July 14, while with his wife's friend Maryann DeCesare and a group of friends who were searching for her and posting missing person signs in Central Park and elsewhere, defendant quipped that he thought his wife-who was missing for a full week-was on a shopping spree at Bloomingdale's, adding, You know what a JAP1 she was. When the search party returned to the marital apartment-only seven days after his wife's disappearance-defendant volunteered to his mother-in-law, in DeCesare's presence, I wonder why the cat got sick. Bierenbaum confessed to killing his wife during a parole hearing in December 2020, saying they were fighting and he wanted her to stop yelling, according to the New Because defendant consented to having the warnings and disclosures communicated, not only to the victim but also to his parents, the court's ruling about the warning letter was correct. I went flying. Defendant also relies on the trial justice's rejection of the People's request to call defendant's three treating doctors to testify at trial. Thinking for a Change: Encouraging Positive Change in Incarcerated Individuals, News Spotlight: Cultural Programming at DOC, News Spotlight: DOC Transgender Housing Policy, Jill Getty Appointed to the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, Reentry Matters Celebrating Second Chance Month, Copyright 2023 Washington State Department of Corrections. Accordingly, there can be no holding that this verdict is against the weight of the evidence. By 1985, the parties' three-year-old marriage can fittingly be described as an emotional battleground. It is beyond cavil that this information was relevant and that it was exactly the type they implored him to convey. WebThe Washington State Department of Corrections manages all state-operated adult prisons and supervises adult inmates who live in the community. While no one other than the victim and defendant was present to observe what transpired in the marital dwelling on the morning of July 7, the inference from the foregoing circumstantial facts is most compelling, if not irresistible, that they had a hostile confrontation that weekend about the future of their marriage, its serious problems, and how each would deal with them. He said Katz had stormed out of their apartment following an argument the morning before and not returned. The fact that this was (1983) nothing was done about it., Confession: Gail Katz is pictured in a family photo. In the summer of 1985, in his exclusive Upper East Side Manhattan apartment, Robert Bierenbaum, a prominent surgeon and certified genius, strangled his wife Gail to death. According to the Times, she had talked Bierenbaum into seeking psychiatric help for his violent streak. Furthermore, were we to reach the merits of the videotape's admissibility, we would reject the defense argument that its contents are based on pure speculation and thus were improperly placed before the jury. People v. Leyra, 1 N.Y.2d 199, 151 N.Y.S.2d 658, 134 N.E.2d 475.) This logic and rationale accords with well-settled law in New York in these matters (People v. Angel, 238 A.D.2d 210, 656 N.Y.S.2d 256, lv. The record also reveals that, although in July defendant told Det. Apart from the fact that there is no reliable evidence that anyone else saw or heard from her thereafter, defendant repeatedly admitted to several people, including his father, that he last saw her then. However, defendant said he would not be home until later, as he had plans to dine out-after an interview which had focused on his wife's sudden disappearance just 34 hours earlier. Molineux authorizes a trial justice to consider allowing a jury to hear about a defendant's prior bad acts-be they violent or otherwise-if they shed light on the issues of intent, identity, motive, absence of accident or mistake, or common plan and scheme (id. That evening, he went to the home of his friend, Dr. Scott Baranoff. Indeed, this prosecution contention-i.e., that it helped expose defendant's motives-was a valid one, as it is at the heart of the People's case. Bierenbaum, an experienced pilot who had been convicted on circumstantial evidence, was serving his 20 years-to-life prison sentence when he made the chilling confession during a December 2020 parole board hearing. First, the court prohibited the People from showing the letter to the jury and, second, they were not permitted to adduce anything other than oral testimony describing only the type of letter the victim had received from defendant's psychiatrist. However, apparently also on July 8, defendant told the victim's therapist, Dr. Sybil Baran, that he and the victim had argued and that she'd gone off in a huff; 8. Encouraging that type of qualitative analysis is the common theme of this State's settled law on this subject (see People v. Pena, 251 A.D.2d 66, 673 N.Y.S.2d 688, affd. His next parole hearing is slated for next month. The magic didnt last long. Please try again. However minor it might be it was very important. It is clear to us that the highly probative nature of this particular proof on the critical questions of defendant's motive and intent, and of the killer's identity, far outweighs any prejudice (see People v. Alvino, 71 N.Y.2d 233, 241-242, 525 N.Y.S.2d 7, 519 N.E.2d 808). Parker was However, in the July 8 interview, he had specifically denied that the reason she left the apartment at 11:00 A.M. to sunbathe in Central Park was related to an argument that morning. This is exactly the same man that I knew 35 years ago, she told ABC News. It is this inappropriate and distracting inference which the Molineux ruling and its progeny aim to bar. He told her of the argument and that the victim had left for Central Park with a blanket for sunbathing. Because defendant did not have a list with him, Dalsass said he would call defendant's home for it that evening. Defendant later retracted that claim. Courts have also considered the status or relationship to the declarant of the person to whom the statement was made *** whether there was a coercive atmosphere, whether it was made in response to questioning and whether the statements reflect an attempt to shift blame or curry favor (James, supra, 93 N.Y.2d at 642-643, 695 N.Y.S.2d 715, 717 N.E.2d 1052 [citing United U.S. v. Matthews, 20 F.3d 538, 546; other citations omitted]). Contested are the way and reason her life ended, the way her killer disposed of her body immediately thereafter, and her killer's identity and state of mind. Furthermore, when defendant spoke to Det. Early in that period, before they began dating, and therefore significantly before the end of September, he falsely told her the police had searched his apartment and car and found him to be clean. Furthermore, she testified that, during that early period, he expressed no concern about his wife's disappearance. For the entire week immediately following the victim's disappearance, defendant failed to return Det. That ruling was correct, first, because defendant waived his CPLR 4504(a) privilege by consenting that the warning be communicated; second, because a warning under these circumstances is an exception to the principle of confidentiality since the psychiatrist is under a duty to warn the intended target of a patient's violence; third, because the nature and existence of the warning letter were relevant to the state of the parties' marriage and defendant's motive to kill his wife in light of her stated intent to use it as leverage in her contemplated divorce action against defendant by confronting him with it and threatening to reveal its contents if he refused to meet her divorce settlement demands; and, finally, because it was relevant to prove, in addition to motive and the state of the parties' marriage, the interrelated issues of his intent to kill her and his identity as her killer. When Dalsass arrived, the crime scene unit was only allowed to search for fingerprints, the victim's diary and her address book. (Photo courtesy of Alayne Katz). However, in 1982, in People v. Lipsky, 57 N.Y.2d 560, 457 N.Y.S.2d 451, 443 N.E.2d 925, the Court of Appeals overruled Ruloff. Authorities could not use the actual plane they say Bierenbaum flew because another pilot later crashed the plane, the article said. Stream next day on Hulu. And, while we agree this type of evidence, alone, may not and should not form the basis for a finding of guilt, it may be taken into account in evaluating all the other evidence. Dalsass' office arranged by the deceased's sister Alayne Katz, and with her parents and defendant's father also present, Dalsass interviewed defendant again face-to-face. [S]peaking in very hushed tones and very rapidly and sound[ing] extremely upset, she said that either the day before or the night before she had a fight with her husband and that during the course of that fight he had choked her into unconsciousness According to Wiese, she added that this was not the first time that they had fought nor the first time he had choked her, but it was the first time she was rendered unconscious and that she was extremely upset. She apparently spoke quickly because she expected defendant to return shortly, and she needed to know what she should do. While the statement must have been made before the declarant had the opportunity to reflect, the time for reflection is not measured in minutes or seconds, but rather is measured by facts. (People v. Marks, 6 N.Y.2d 67, 72, 188 N.Y.S.2d 465, 160 N.E.2d 26, cert. Within days, investigators were also skeptical of Bierenbaums story, according to the Times. It is on the basis of that history and its relevance to proving an element of the crime charged-and, as well, after the court balances probative value against potential prejudice-that a court may determine the admissibility of prior evidence of aggressiveness, be it acts of domestic violence, threats or otherwise. Since none of the three of these relatives was involved in providing defendant treatment nor subject to any other privilege (see Poppe v. Poppe, 3 N.Y.2d 312, 165 N.Y.S.2d 99, 144 N.E.2d 72 [marital privilege inapplicable where one spouse wrongs another]; People v. Davis, 226 A.D.2d 125, 640 N.Y.S.2d 53, lv. Furthermore, defense counsel's earlier language on October 11, 2000 purporting to object was premature and, in any event, legally inadequate to constitute an objection (id.). Defendant falsely attributed to Dr. Baran the opinion that the victim was depressed and might have committed suicide. Dalsass waited until 12:30 A.M. and left the first of approximately eight messages on defendant's home answering machine and at his work number during the ensuing week. Theres no other suspect.. Significantly, he omitted telling his father that he had flown an airplane for nearly two hours that very afternoon. He admitted that during the July 7 argument he failed to heed his psychiatrist's advice to try to defuse the situation and that this argument on the day she disappeared became explosive. He told others that he and the victim argued just before she left for Central Park to cool off; another that a private investigator he had hired found evidence she was living in California probably with financial help from her family; others that she had a drug problem, that she may have disappeared with drug dealers and that she probably was murdered by her druggie friends; others that she may have run off to live with someone in the Caribbean; and others that his missing wife was seen after July 7, 1985 in some type of fugue state in the Central Park area and that it was unlikely she would return. Nevertheless, he contradicted himself among various versions and aspects of those statements. It was appropriately rejected by the jury. ). I told him that any information is useful. Her stated intentions, should defendant refuse to accede to those demands, were plain. Matthew Rowley hoisted the bag into the front passenger seat of the plane, a four-seat Cessna 172, similar to the plane investigators said Bierenbaum rented. 14, 551 P.2d 334). 4. After killing Katz, he got rid of her body where no one would find it. Any friends, relatives, anything that could assist me would certainly be very beneficial in locating her as quickly as possible. There was no foregone conclusion to this case, by any stretch of the imagination.. She wanted to cool off and he waited a couple of hours and then he went looking for her and he found the towel and the suntan lotion but she was gone. Also, shortly after she vanished, he told his Southampton summer landlord that after his wife left he went through her drawers and found cocaine, prompting him to believe she went off with drug dealers. He hasnt changed. Indeed, the Lipsky court expressed no hesitancy in holding that the corpus delicti may be established by circumstantial evidence (id. At 9:00 P.M. the next night (July 8), he finally spoke to Detective Vergilio Dalsass, telling him that his wife left their apartment at 11:00 A.M. on July 7 to sunbathe in Central Park wearing pink shorts and a white t-shirt. MacCracken v. Miller, 291 N.Y. 55, 62, 50 N.E.2d 542 [other citations omitted]). Forever in our hearts.. Notwithstanding that defendant originally consented to having the psychiatrist speak to and warn the victim and his parents, he now claims that the ruling allowing testimony only about the existence and nature of the warning letter was error because it violated his statutory privilege under CPLR 4504(a) and it was otherwise unduly prejudicial. They were both 29 at the time of her killing, and he told the parole board he was immature and did not know how to contain his anger, the Daily News reported. When she came to, he begged her forgiveness and promised it would never happen again. He didnt understand how to deal with his anger, Bierenbaum said, according to the transcript. (See e.g. On the facts here, it is reasonable to assign a moderate degree of probative force to the false statements [emphasis added]. He returned it after one hour and fifty-six minutes, giving him time enough to fly round trip approximately 165 miles over a part of the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, the plastic surgeon claimed innocence, but that has all changed. 79 N.Y.2d 808, 580 N.Y.S.2d 174, 588 N.E.2d 72.) Dalsass on Monday, July 8 and again on Sunday, July 14, he never said-indeed on July 8 he denied-that he and his wife argued that morning, even though Dalsass did acknowledge that defendant, on July 14, said the victim was pissed the morning she left. They began dating a month before she moved in. The protective privilege ends where the public peril begins (Tarasoff v Regents of Univ. denied 80 N.Y.2d 905, 588 N.Y.S.2d 831, 602 N.E.2d 239; People v. Shorey, 172 A.D.2d 634, 568 N.Y.S.2d 436, lv. at 569, 457 N.Y.S.2d 451, 443 N.E.2d 925). On July 7, 1985, at 4:30 P.M., he rented a Cessna 172 plane at Caldwell Airport in Fairfield, New Jersey. Her remains have never been found, although a body washed ashore in Staten Island that investigators initially believed to be Katz Bierenbaum. At, we pride ourselves on being the number one source of free legal information and resources on the web. 3.86. The investigators were not permitted to check for blood or hair samples or to search for anything that we could document that a crime took place.. Later the same day, around 6:30 P.M., defendant arrived alone at his sister's Montclair, New Jersey, home for his nephew's birthday party. (Lorenzo Ciniglio/Sygma via Getty Images), We knew it was going to be the toughest trial that wed ever had. A King County Superior Court jury today found Robert Parker guilty of two counts of aggravated murder in the stabbing and strangulation of two Shoreline-area A jury convicted Robert Bierenbaum of second-degree murder based on circumstantial evidence that on July 7, 1985 he intentionally killed his wife, Gail Katz And if shes not alive, theres only one person who is a likely suspect to murder her, and its Bob. No other inference finds any support in this record, and none could survive an impartial and objective assessment of the proof, particularly in light of defendant's admission that their argument was severe and had become explosive.. Based on what he said at trial, the interval could have been as long as twenty-four hours, hardly a typical time span to qualify as an excited utterance. Second, the record is totally devoid of evidence about what transpired during these many intervening hours to enable the trier of fact to determine, based on the activities of the declarant in the interim, whether the declarant had the opportunity to reflect (id.). Arcturus: New COVID-19 variant spreading in the U.S with new symptom, Accused Florida serial killer accepts plea deal, will serve 4 consecutive life terms, Gov. Dr. Baran unequivocally denied she had ever made either of those statements to defendant or that she had even held these opinions. At a parole hearing in December 2020, he confessed to killing his wife and dumping her body from a plane, according to the New York Daily News. I was like, Holy (expletive), are you kidding me? former prosecutor Daniel Bibb told ABC News. Bierenbaum, a former plastic surgeon, was convicted of killing his first wife, Gail Katz, in 1985. He also disclosed to his date that in the past he had a bad temper, but that it had gotten much better. During that meeting he told O'Malley that he drove his father's Cadillac to his sister's New Jersey home on July 7, instead of his own [smaller] Datsun, as his car allegedly had mechanical problems. That key factor in the context of marital or other intimate relationships frequently differentiates domestic violence assaults and homicides-wherein prior bad acts have often been deemed admissible during the People's direct case-from other cases wherein evidence of past assaultive behavior against people other than the victim has most properly been precluded. We recognize that the law most often views consciousness of guilt evidence as weak-but not always. She expressed this homicide theory to Sharon one day while defendant was not home. Finally, although the alleged assault she recounted was undoubtedly extremely frightening, the proof shows her mental state so many hours later was not shown to be dominated by the same level of heightened excitement that would normally overwhelm a person in the immediate aftermath of such a recent traumatic shock. Robert Bierenbaum admitted he threw his wife's body out of an airplane and into the ocean nearly three decades ago during a parole hearing in December 2020, ABC Further, he told Dalsass, in some detail, that on Saturday afternoon, July 6, while he and Gail shopped at various local stores, they argued about finances and other matters which he refused to disclose. Gail Katz Bierenbaum./Robert Bierenbaum. Det. Whether earlier acts of alleged violence or threats are admissible depends on the circumstances surrounding both the past and the currently charged aggressive acts or threats. From the rental office's vantage point, one would not have been able to see defendant on the tarmac getting ready to board-and possibly load luggage or other items onto-the plane, which was in a position readily accessible by automobile for such purposes. Robert Bierenbaum admitted he threw his wife's body out of an airplane and into the ocean nearly three decades ago during a parole hearing in December 2020, ABC News reported. Defendant contends that the court improperly allowed the prosecution to adduce testimony, and otherwise refer to evidence, that defendant was violent, and that he choked his wife to the point of unconsciousness in late 1983. WebThe written ruling by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan was consistent with previous rulings by judges who have reviewed the conviction of Dr. Robert Bierenbaum. O'Malley that the building doorman said he last saw her leave the building shortly after 11 o'clock on July 7. Defendant described differently to different people the items the victim took and the clothes she wore when she purportedly left to sunbathe in Central Park, and whether she was then wearing shoes and her engagement ring; 3. Notwithstanding defendant's argument, this limitation was, under these circumstances, an exercise of discretion which was fair to both sides for the following important reason. He again omitted on July 14 to tell Dalsass-and O'Malley as well the day before-that he was a licensed pilot, rented a plane in New Jersey, and flew it for two hours from 4:30 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. on July 7. denied 92 N.Y.2d 893, 680 N.Y.S.2d 57, 702 N.E.2d 842). Therefore, the trial justice should not have admitted the victim's statements to Hillard Wiese as excited utterances. However, we hold that this error was harmless, because, as we noted earlier, the jury otherwise properly learned that the victim claimed defendant had committed a violent act against her in the fall of 1983, as evidence relevant to the state of their marriage, to defendant's motive, to his intent, and relevant evidence of identity.
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