Anatomy of Murder

A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.

10-13 (Anthony McLean)

10-13 (Anthony McLean)

Tue, 17 May 2022 07:00

The search for a missing girl takes a deadly turn when an officer confronts a criminal who will stop at nothing to avoid jail time.

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If you're looking for a new show unlike anything you've ever heard before, check out audio Chuck's latest series killed. Each episode of killed covers a story that you may have never read because it was killed before it got published. I'm Justine Harman, who some of you may know from my show OC swingers, and I'm here to bring these dead stories back to life binge killed right now to get the full story. Hi everyone, Ashley Flowers here and I have exciting news to share. My debut novel, all good people here is officially out now. Our fans are blowing up our social talking about it. You do not want to be left out and the worst thing that could happen is for someone else to spoil it for you because there are some wild twists in this book. If you love true crime content, mysteries, and a grown up Nancy Drew style detective work then I have a good feeling you won't be able to put this book down. So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of all good people here now, wherever books are sold. This was a list that he was preparing to give to the killer in his organization, and the two most prominent names were the names of the two witnesses who could put him in the building, names of their relatives that might be living with him, children, adults, whatever. In essence, it was a hit list. I'm Scott Weinberger, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Palazzi former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction. His anatomy of murder. For today's story, I spoke with Ken Taub and just off the bat I have to tell you a few things. And that is he was my boss while I was in homicide. He is my good friend, but he also holds this special place for me because while I learned from a lot of people along the way, he is most likely my main mentor throughout the years. I started in September of 1980. The homicide rate was substantial by then. Ken would eventually become the chief of Homicide from 1995 to 2017 at the Brooklyn or the Kings County District Attorney's Office. It's a total of 22 years there, and while he would try so many homicide cases in his decorated career. This is one that stands out, and for so many reasons. I believe the year before this homicide 87, I might have had 13 cases. I think that was my maximum, so we were very busy. It was April 14th, 1988, and there was two different law enforcement agencies within New York City, and that was the NYPD and also the Housing division. And both divisions and multiple officers were looking for a young girl. She was ten years old and was last seen playing outside her grandmother's apartment the day before. Deputy at that time was a fellow named Dan Saunders. He had risen quickly through the ranks and he came to me and he said to me, what are you doing right now? And I was never a volunteer for anything, but I didn't have anything compelling that was tying me up at the moment. So he said, good, we're taking a ride. Kenwood quickly learned that the search for the missing girl would take a tragic turn. Multiple officers were conducting the search inside 340 DuMont Ave, which is a 16 floor, 125 unit building, and to thoroughly search those buildings, officers would conduct something called a vertical patrol. The officers start off on the roof of the building, and they each descend on the two separate stairwells, pop out to inspect the floors as they go along. And here's why it is because they are tactically safer. As any officer will tell you, you don't want someone shooting down at you in a stairwell if you had your choice. While you don't want to be in any shootouts at all, you certainly would rather be on the high end rather than the low. The stairwells in the 80s and even today they're not always well lit. And for officers in those stairwells, they're encased in cement, so police radios, especially in the 80s, didn't work very well. Each of these buildings has two stairwells that run parallel to each other but never meet and never intersect. If you could, imagine being on a hallway of an apartment building and you'll have two stairwell doors 50 feet apart, and on any given floor you have a single flight that goes down to the next floor. So what you have is 2 stairwells next to each other crossing, but they're not visible to each other. They're surrounded by cinder block. But they would communicate by taking their nightsticks and tapping on the wall to show where they were. So that's how they kept into communication, because the radios that they had didn't often work very well within the Housing Authority buildings. And while I've never conducted a vertical patrol myself, I've spoken to a fair share of officers who have. It is a necessity, but each one brings relief when the officers make it out of the building without any incident. We are focusing on 2 specific officers doing this vertical patrol in the search for this 10 year old missing girl, Anthony McLean and Tony Weeks. They called them the two Tonys because they worked together and they were good friends. After reaching the roof, both officers descended down into the stairwell and as they pass each floor, there's no sign of the girl. It is 2:00 AM and they're getting closer to the ground level. Officer Weeks gets to the lobby first. While Officer McLean was still making his way down on the 2nd floor, he was confronted by a hulking man, and that confrontation in a split second was about to turn fatal. Started at the rooftop and we're working their way down and very early on Tony Weeks was somewhat ahead of Tony McLean going down the stairs and he was walking on the staircase between the 2nd floor in the lobby floor when all of a sudden a young male is at the bottom of the stairs, sort of where the lobby door is, and he yells something like 5 O. And just a side note, 5 O is slang on the street for police. Then he heard nothing. He came into the lobby. He saw that someone had just run out of the building, through the front door, and then he heard a gunshot. Officer Weeks heard three gunshots coming from the opposite stairwell, and he took cover besides an elevator, and he waited there. And remember, officer Weeks can't see his partner because of those concrete walls. He can't even radio him because of them. And then he heard his partner's nightstick tumble down the stairs. So officer weeks peers around the corner and he found his partner shot. He went to that staircase and he found his partner, Tony McLean. He was unable to say anything. They obviously were trying everything they could to keep him alive. Tony Weeks radios in a 1013 call which is officer needs help. Responding officers put him in a patrol car and raced him to the hospital, but he died a short time later from a single gunshot wound. It was a shot that caused massive damage pretty quickly. A single shot and he could not be saved and he could not provide any information. And that gunshot wound was to his chest and as listed by the medical examiner with injuries to his jugular vein and lungs. Obviously, every murder is tragic and a line of duty murder of a police officer is always seen by many as a heightened defense just by the nature of what the killer is capable of. If they're willing to murder an officer in uniform, no one is safe. Unfortunately, the killings of police officers on duty was not a very rare thing. Tony McLean was wearing his vest, but it's where the bullet entered his body that made this a fatal event. He was shot from above, and perhaps he was angling forward so that it became a shot that just went through the top of the shoulder into his body cavity. And it was just terribly, terribly unlucky, because the shot penetrated his bulletproof vest at the point at which the two panels connect. By a strap, a piece of cloth from the front to the back, and had he been hit anywhere else in his chest or back, he probably would have survived. You know, Scott, in all the years that you worked in law enforcement, have you ever known someone that was killed in the line of duty? And also maybe if someone was wearing a bulletproof vest that just didn't save them in the end? There is an unfortunate and a fortunate part in my answers. Back to you, Anna Sega. Yes, even though they're called bulletproof vests, the name is not actually accurate. They are bullet resistant and while they normally do a great job in stopping a projectile, it's not a body suit. Not all areas of the body are protected. My first training officer was killed in the line of duty responding to a silent armed robbery call. He was unfortunately shot in the head and the vest would not have made a difference. But the person who was with him, his backup at that moment, was shot in the vest and the bullet ricocheted off the vest and went through his arm, disabling him for a moment. But he was able to reach for his second weapon with his left hand and fire back at the assailant. So here is 1 incident that had two results. You know, unfortunately I have known officers that were murdered. One of the first officers in the case that I did was murdered a few years later. So within this line of work, you know, I've really seen it from both sides. At the top of the podcast we talked about the reasons why both officers were searching 340 DuMont Ave that night. They were looking for a 10 year old girl who had been reported missing for more than a day. And as it turns out, she was found about 6 hours of the shooting at a friend's home nearby. And Officer McLean wasn't just looking for this young girl. He'd actually spoken to her family. And after his death, her mom recalled that officer McLean had been one of the first officers who took the report from her and interviewed her, and that she remembered how pleasant and helpful he was. And that says something about him. Anthony McClain are Tony McClain, as he was known, was born in Trinidad in 1960 and he emigrated with his family to the US in 1974. He attended high school in Brooklyn and then he joined the Army, becoming part of the elite force of the Green Berets. He was honorably discharged in 1980 and in 1985 he joined the NYPD. And various family members spoke about that decision that he made, and they said that it was something that he wanted to do to help his community. To his fellow officers, Tony McLean was always known as an easygoing, proactive officer. He was 27 at the time of his murder. He had already had three years on the job with the New York City Housing Police Department that was considered to be a veteran those days, patrol officers were generally young men had already received several. Commendations and citations during his young career, Tony McLean was not a New York City police officer. He was a New York City housing police officer, which was an entirely different entity. I think it's important to distinguish the difference between these two police agencies. While the NYPD is the law enforcement agency responsible for policing duties within the five boroughs of New York City, in 1952 the city formed a separate police force focusing on housing developments in all five boroughs, similar to what New York City did with the New York City Transit police. Both agencies would eventually be folded in to the NYPD. Something else about Tony McClain. At the time of his death, he was engaged to be married soon in July to Nadine Baptiste, who was a city corrections officer and a friend of his since childhood. A tragedy all around, you know. I met his parents and he was a good son engaged in a a vital, important job, and he was taken far too young. And at Anthony week's funeral, there was over 3000 officers representing 28 different police departments. Officers were 6 deep, forming a line that stretched almost four city blocks and that really talks about when a member of the Police Department dies, specifically in an intentional homicide, how all of them come out to honor the fallen officer. Since this was the murder of one of their own officers, the New York City housing police did have a major case squad and they would take the lead in this investigation. I was kind of just a fungible guy that they handed cases to him in terms of hierarchy. I was a low man on the totem pole. Ken was soon tasked with handling this case, and if you want to know why, it's really because, again, we look at things differently than investigators because we're sometimes thinking of the legal nuances that may play out in court and if ultimately there's a conviction, things that may impact a case even as far as the appeals. And the key here is getting Intel off of the streets, working your sources within those buildings, knowing what the word is on the street and beyond. Had a witness right from the get go. It was Officer Weeks, Officer Mclean's own partner. And in many ways he was exactly everything you would hope for in a witness because first of all, he's trained to make observations. That's exactly what he was doing when they were on that vertical patrol, when this tragedy hit. He told detectives that as he was making his way out that he had heard gunshots. He saw a man specifically wearing a tan jacket run out of the lobby doors and onto the street. So obviously for police, that person in the tan jacket is going to be the first person that you're going to try to find. Police would have a lot of ground to cover within this 16 story building. Time is of the essence. If it wasn't the shooter who fled out the front door, could they have gone back up the stairwell and found an apartment within that 124 apartment building? To hide out, police needed to make those determinations. They did search the building immediately and they found somebody who appeared not to belong. They found the fellow by the name of Charles Gary and Charles Gary. Was at a window, seemingly throwing something away when the officer doing the search found him. You have to ask the question is how suspicious is it that they have this guy who is now almost 2:00 AM and he's throwing something out the window right when they know in the same time frame that a police officer has been shot? The police came to the conclusion that he must have something to do with this because he didn't live in that building and he had no explanation of an innocent nature of what he was doing there, so he was taken into custody without anything more than he was in the building. And he didn't necessarily belong there. And it was in the Minutes after this shooting, as it turns out, he eventually provided a statement to the police and to our office that began to shed light on this thing. According to Charles Gary, inside the lobby of the building there were three people Charles Gary, the person police already had in custody, and person #2A teenager named Kevin Lowery. And it's Charles, Gary went on to explain. Kevin Lowery was on his knees and he had a gun to his head, and the person holding that gun was now person #3 Johnny Ray Robinson. And the entire argument between them was about missing drug money. Either demanding to know where the money was or why he had stolen from him. Picture this scene. Johnny Ray Robinson has a gun to the head of teenager Kevin Lowery. Tensions are high and Charles Gary sees an opportunity to leave. And Charles Gary evidently believed that he was about to witness an execution, but he had decided on his own that he did not want to see it. But when he leaves, he goes through the stairwell, the same stairwell of officer weeks. He's the one that yelled out five O to warn Robinson and Lowry that in fact there was a cop in the building. And then he proceeded to run up the stairs past Tony Weeks. Tony Weeks comes downstairs and sees only the back of somebody fleeing the building, and that was when Charles Gary too, heard the shots, but he didn't know who was shot. He didn't see any of it, obviously. I suppose someone wanted it to be Charles Gary, to be the killer because that would have resolved things, although they didn't really have the evidence to show that here already everyone's going to be trying to parse out is, is Charles Gary telling the truth? And the only way to do that is to really find Kevin Lowery. And that's exactly what investigators did and they sat him down and he told the story. They had grabbed Charles Gary. He was at the precinct. I believe they had already grabbed Kevin Lowery and each of them denied having anything to do with the shooting and have placed Johnny Ray Robinson at the scene with a gun in his hand seconds before the shots went off. And again, because we have these different names swirling, just to keep in mind that Kevin Larry also didn't see Robinson shoot Officer McLean, if that's what happened at all, because Kevin Larry was the one who had first been seen running out of the building. As police searched the building, they don't find any more witnesses, but they look into the incinerator shaft and find a clue that can break this case wide open. When the building was built, it had an incinerator and they replaced it with a compactor. At the bottom of that very building they found a gun. And that gun when it was tested, a 9 millimeter tourist semi automatic weapon ended up being the murder weapon. We talked earlier how Charles Gary was seen throwing something out the window. Could he also be the one who tossed the gun down the trash chute? But finding the murder weapon would not easily solve this homicide. There were a few snags with the weapon. There were no fingerprints of value recovered on it. While they had solid forensics that this was the weapon that fired the fatal shot, that doesn't tell you who pulled the trigger. So then they turned to something else. And that is because every firearm has a serial number that is registered when you recover a weapon that's been used in a crime and that weapon has not been altered. By removing the serial number, you may have an opportunity to locate who purchased the weapon, but even in those cases, anesthesia as you know it normally doesn't lead anywhere and that's. Because of this, people that are committing crimes with guns, they are not usually the registered owners. I can think of one or two in my career where we actually had good evidence as a result of tracing back a serial number to the original purchaser, but was interesting about it. The gun had a serial number and it turns out if you just looked at it you could figure out what had been done. Somebody had taken an electric drill and simply drilled down on each of the numbers in the serial number to wipe them out. So the gun used in this homicide was altered. The serial number had been removed, and it's often these days called a ghost gun. The guns of ghosts, because no one knows any traceable history about it. While the murder weapon doesn't answer some critical questions or even lead to the killer, Ken is about to get handed. Another surprise. I remember Dan Saunders coming into my office. I think at some point, he says. I think I've got a present for you. Dan would smile out of the side of his mouth. Another ADA in the office was working on a completely separate case at the time that seemed somehow connected to Officer McLean shooting death, and that is because they were looking at a very large drug organization within that area and there was a lot of problems between rival drug gangs at the time, remembered. This is the late 80s, it was the crack cocaine epidemic and there was all sorts of drug wars going on. We had a series of unsolved murders by people that nobody in the media was making a fuss over. And it was only through multiple, multiple interviews that this picture began to emerge of this drug organization of which Johnny Ray was apart. And so while there's all these drug wars going on, eventually there are various indictments. There are cases brought against them, and some of them were in Brooklyn, and there were indictments for multiple homicides, attempted murder. So you can imagine the penalties possible if someone was convicted of those crimes. And I didn't know anything about it until Dan came to me and says I got a present. For you and the president was competition. Kyle Patterson was one of the people caught up in all that, so it isn't shocking that at that point he decided to try to help himself and talk to authorities. One of the things he said he did was he bought 6 identical Taurus 9 millimeter guns, which were distributed to the six principles of this organization. So he says, I'm the guy that gave Johnny Ray Robinson that gun, and I can prove it because I still have mine. If this pans out, this is powerful evidence. He told them he had a girlfriend dump it in a milk box in case younger people don't know what a milk box is. When milk was delivered by individuals to individual customers back in the 50s and 60s, there was a metal box that was kept on your porch or outside your door that was insulated where the milkman coming around very early would leave your milk in the box so it wouldn't go bad. And I remember the detectives going out to a place that might have been where Kyle Patterson's girlfriend lived, and I guess she had been directed by Kyle. Managed to put the gun in this milk box where it was recovered, and sure enough it was an identical gun to the gun recovered. But interestingly it also had the serial number drilled out as I've described it identically. So up until this time, there was no obvious or clear motive about why Robinson would go out of his way to murder police officer McLean. McLean wasn't there investigating any drug deals. Remember option McLean is there because of a missing child, but when investigators sat Patterson down, they learned the real reason that Johnny Robinson's gun fired at Officer McLean. Kyle Patterson said that he was surprised by the cop in the stairwell and that he was on parole the time with a gun in his hand when the cop saw him and he did not want to go back to prison, and so he shot the cop. If Robinson is the killer, he is a man desperate not to be found. Just think he allegedly shot Officer McLean just to prevent from going back to jail on a probation violation. Just imagine what he will do to keep off the radar going to prison for the murder of a New York City housing officer. And I can tell you that unfortunately, this is an all too familiar scenario. Like, even when I saw it, I just was like, uh, because it's exactly the scenario that I had that people were trying to not go back to jail for completely unrelated crime at the officers would never have figured out. So they decided to try to murder 2 police officers. In the case that I handled, one died and fortunately one didn't. But as prosecutors, we hear this as a motive all the time. They don't want to go to jail for something, so they decide the way out is to kill a police officer. I mean, just think about that for a second. Besides, how awful. That is how ridiculous is that? Because nothing is ever going to make you investigated then killing or injuring a police officer. I mean, you were going to have basically every police force in the United States and beyond on your trail, so it actually makes no sense beyond being despicable. You know, they also have a close network of associates that they can hide with, make it harder for police to find. And clearly Johnny Ray Robinson had a large crew. He's high up in the drug world and he has the money and the means to stay hidden. He was a major player in a drug organization. Unless he was completely stupid, he had saved some money. They were making substantial amounts of cash in this business. And when you look at someone who was willing to kill a police officer, there's three things that you know about that person. No rules, no boundaries. No one is safe. And as investigators are on the hunt for Robinson, who is on the run, they uncover disturbing details that he may kill again. They find a hit list. Johnny Ray Robinson is the lead suspect in the murder of a New York City housing police officer. He did have access to cash, and investigators would find ways to get into his inner circle investigation like this, where it's all hands on deck. There are detectives running down all kinds of leads. Remember, this is long before the days of the Internet or even cell phones. While they're going to speak with friends, known associates are going to likely debrief anyone that is arrested for anything. And they also are going to go through phone records, but those are landlines and in this case even pay phones. They were looking for payphone records and they eventually found, located and interviewed Johnny Ray Robinson's girlfriend, who was pregnant with his child at the time. They had phone calls. One of them I remember very clearly, came from a payphone at the airport in Philadelphia. The fact that he may be in Philadelphia police began to reach out to local authorities to get assets in place to find him. But the information from that call with his girlfriend brought much more than just the location. During the conversation, he says, I want you to write down these names, and I want you to give this list of names that I'm going to give you to a fellow named Victor Breeland. And when they looked into Victor Breeland, they learned that he was actually known as the enforcer of his drug circle. So if someone was going to get hurt, it was likely Victor who was doing the hurting. Essentially, the names that he Johnny Robinson, gave to his girlfriend over the phone where Charles, Gary and Kevin Lowery names of their relatives that might be living with him. Children, adults, whatever. You know, Scott, when you hear about this list, you know, what does it sound to you like Robinson is plotting? Witness intimidation, witness homicides. I mean, he obviously doesn't want anybody to testify against him. He's anticipating that he will eventually be arrested and probably be brought to court. So he is trying to prevent anyone, anyone within his circle, anyone that may have pertinent information about his involvement in this cop killing, to be able to take the stand and testify against him. In essence, it was a hit list that he was preparing. I mean, just think about it. If he is the one who committed this crime, well, then his motive was because he didn't want to go back to jail for a parole violation. And his answer to that was executing a police officer. So what is he going to do to any potential witness against him? And think about this and just the fact that there was a list, let's just say for one second, the intention of Johnny Ray Robinson was to make it known to his associates that Alists exists and whether he planned on carrying out or not. The fact that it exists and they know that they will begin to decide whether they really did want to be cooperative witnesses. At the end of the conversation, she says to him. There's talk on the newspapers, TV, whatever it was, or the neighborhood that you shot a cop. Is that true? And he says something along the lines of how dare you ask me a question like that on the phone and slams the phone down. And then he calls her back from another payphone and gave directions to her to get these names. To Victor Breeland, knowing how desperate Robinson has become, police needed to get him in custody. And perhaps there still is an element of surprise here. He may not know that they've already pinpointed his location somewhere in Philadelphia. Tony Derita was a first grade detective with the New York City Housing Police Major Case squad. But I remember getting a call from Tony saying we got. And he was arrested in Philadelphia, hiding in an apartment. With Robinson now in custody, police went to the home of Victor Brelan. Victor Breeland was on parole, and I think they did a parole visit to his apartment where he wasn't there and they searched the place. He wasn't there. But something extremely important was they recovered the list that Johnny Ray's girlfriend had prepared based upon his dictation. They found it in his apartment with the names Kevin and Charles on it. They knew what they had at that point, and then it was confirmed by the girlfriend. So Ken has multiple pieces of evidence. In this case. He has two witnesses that aren't strangers. And what I mean by that is that they can identify Johnny Robinson because they know him. They have Robinson's flight right after the crime. They have the various conversations with the girlfriend. They have this hit list that isn't just talked about by the girlfriend. They actually now have it in their hands because it is found in the home of their enforcer. They have the gun that is found and while again it doesn't have fingerprints, it doesn't have DNA, it all starts to form the pictures of this. Puzzle. And in the middle of that puzzles the face is Johnny Robinson. So certainly for Ken, I'm confident that he was more than willing and ready to go into court with the pieces he had. So you take all of this evidence and total, I thought I had a really good case, but my only concern is this case really is not built on forensics at all. I mean, yes, they have the murder weapon, but they don't know who pulled the trigger. It's built on the testimony of Johnny Ray Robinson's own associates, and they may decide that maybe they don't want to testify. So there are some nail biting moments, I'm sure, walking into the courtroom with a case folder like this. And I think what you just said, that's the piece that I think is of the biggest concern is going to be the witnesses themselves. You know, the fact that there's no forensics, well, that doesn't really freak me out at all. And I'd be more than happy to go into court without them. And it happens all the time because again, even with forensics, well, he could say, well, I had that gun. I didn't use the gun at the time. I'll remember the next time we're talking about a case amnesia and we say we have no forensics. And you say come back later because you have no forensics. Depends on the case, because most cases actually don't have forensics. Right. But. Ultimately, we're talking about a witness list that is members of a drug crew, and they're out for themselves. I mean, they're flipping like pancakes to try to do something for themselves, right? But if you've been a prosecutor in Brooklyn, we've dealt with them all the time, right? So you're a pancake flipper, son of pancake flipper. But again, it's, you know, witnesses aren't always the, you know, the boy or girl next door. As people say, they're very often those that are also in bed. If you're well with some of the people committing crimes and so you take them for what they are and you just hope that jurors have common sense and they can put the evidence together and see it for what it is or not if we don't have enough. And I think people are pretty good at parsing that out. So this case goes to trial with the evidence that Ken Taub had, he had a murder weapon, he had a hit list, hit a witnesses who were all in the lobby the night that Anthony McLean was murdered. And even though it was a strong case, Ken Tab was still thrown a curve. And I think I'm saying that and putting it lightly, Charles Gary was on the stand as my witness. Now remember, Charles Gary is a prosecution witness, but once he's in that chair, there's no telling what he might say and the defense attorney elicits from Charles Gary. The question was, isn't it true, Charles Gary, that you were behind, sat in the chair and that detectives stepped on the handcuffs and tried to get you to confess to killing police officer McLean? And Charles, Gary said, Yep, that's what happened. You know, now hearing a witness talk about abuse or or threats by the police, you know, unfortunately, as prosecutors, I don't know any one of us who has done a lot of cases that hasn't had things just like that come up in court and I really come out on it. In a few ways is that one if it's happened, inexcusable. But I've also seen it so many times where it isn't based in truth at all, and it is now a witness trying to help the defense by saying something that they think will resonate with jurors. We clearly do not have any first-hand knowledge of whether this did or did not happen in this case, but historically, accusations of this type of misconduct have been leveled at members of law enforcement, and action has been taken in fact, if revealed to be true. But I'd like to make one final point. The real risk in this case is the credibility of those detectives to a specific audience, 12 members of the jury deciding the fate of an alleged cop killer. I wasn't aware of these accusations against the detectives until cross examination of my witnesses. I don't know for sure that it happened. No detective ever admitted doing it to me. But I can imagine a situation where his answers are evasive. He doesn't belong there. It's minutes after the crime. He was seen throwing something down out the window. So I would imagine, without knowing for sure that pressure was put on Charles Gary to confess to this homicide, but he never did because he wasn't the killer. Is it possible? Absolutely. Does it have anything to do with who murdered this officer in cold blood? No. But it certainly would have something to do with presenting the evidence in a court. What? I want to see the center of the courtroom in a trial? No. Does it belong there? If it's true, it does belong in front of a jury. But is it tainting the purpose of what this trial is all about? The guilt or innocence of a man who was on trial for murdering a New York City? Police officer or murdering anybody? One or more of the jurors were offended by that even then, in the late 1980s. Well, I think the problem is much worse now because we know much more now than we did 30 plus years ago. I was surprised by and taken aback by the hostility that some of the jurors had towards the police in this case. Back in the courtroom, the anticipation was building as Ken prepared to call a key prosecution witness, Johnnie Robinson's girlfriend, to the stand. By the time the case went to trial the next year, in 1989, the baby had been born. I called Johnny Ray, Robinson's girlfriend, to the stand. The court officer goes out to summon her from the hall and in she comes holding her now baby, and as she entered the courtroom, she made a statement without uttering a word. And the baby to Johnny Ray, Robinson's mother, who's sitting in the audience to watch, to hold him while she testifies. Imagine that for a moment. A key witness for the prosecution's coming in to testify very reluctantly, and she hands her son to his grandmother, who is the defendant's mother in court who held him while she testified against him. And that is pretty stunning. First of all, what it does, well, it humanizes the defendant in a way, right? And so you always worry about sympathy or things like that. Again, it's all people in the courtroom, but we are making decisions based on evidence and not sympathy one way or the other. So as a prosecutor, of course we worry about that, just like the defense worries about it the other way. There was the cross examination of her and the defense attorney elicits from the girlfriend. Weren't you threatened at the precinct when you were there? And she immediately says yes, I was there was a detective who told me that if I didn't admit that Johnny Robinson confessed to me to killing the cop, I was going to give birth to that baby on the floor of the priest. We talk about these things because they have been alleged and sometimes they have happened and I truly believe that in honesty and transparency. Well then maybe, just maybe, people get some sense of that faith in our system back and they know when to believe and when not to believe, when to doubt, when they can trust. And so we don't want to hear it OM sugarcoated or hide it. And that has to do with all people, including the police. And as I mentioned before, you can't enforce the. Law by breaking the law and when they step out of line and do something wrong they should be held accountable. I'm talking about members of law enforcement and whatever techniques were were not used by the police in those days. I believe 100% she told nothing but the truth and never added anything despite the desire of some detectives that she do so. So Next up on the stand is Kevin Lowery, the teenagers who had told officers that Robinson was holding a gun to his head because he was accused of stealing money from him. Then, at trial, he decided to go with the defense by saying that he in fact had ran out of the building, but that Johnny Ray Robinson had ran out of the building with him, making it impossible for him to have been the killer. Would that testimony, that statement from the stand, completely derail Ken's case? And I think hearing that, Scott, it's like mic drop, like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Where is that coming from? This is his witness. And if it was true, Officer Tony Weeks would have told investigators he had seen two people fleeing. So a witness flipping is nothing new. And obviously, I know anastagia you've had that happen within your cases. What's the recovery? Well, sometimes. You can recover and sometimes you can't. When I heard it, I was like, oh, here we go. Because I think all of us that have done a lot of these cases, we've had it happen more than once. But, you know, what do you have before? Do you have a statement that you can use to now impeach that witness? You know, in New York law, there are very limited times when you can impeach your own witness. In other words, to show that your witness at a previous time said something inconsistent with what they're saying now in court. And what you have to have is the evidence that they're now. Offering has to be contrary to what they said before and it has to materially hurt your case. Well, now Ken has at his disposal the other statements that he had, specifically the sworn statement in the grand jury of that same witness, Kevin Lowry, and now he can actually cross examine him with that. So the jury at least knows that they've said something different and they can try to assess what the reason for that is. That when Kevin Lowry decided to flip, he decided to flip full bore, presumably as a favor to Johnny Ray Robinson and the organization that he was part of. I have this nervous feeling in my stomach right now thinking about what Ken Taub was facing. I mean, the only word I can think of is refocus. How does he get an opportunity to refocus this jury on the facts of this case? The defense is having its way in a sense of confusing the issue, and I think it is important that can have an opportunity to refocus this journey when he took the stand. Materially hurt my case. I was allowed to impeach him, and then the judge gives the standard instruction that you may not consider that grand jury as evidence in chief against this defendant, but you can consider it in evaluating the credibility of Kevin Lowry on the stand now. Yes, it's messy, but the truth is sometimes messy and you just have to use that common sense coupled with the law, and you really have to hope at the end that the jury can do just that. Clearly they had two completely different versions of Kevin Lowery's story, and they had to decide whether he was lying or telling the truth now. This is definitely one jury deliberation. I would love to be a fly on the wall on. Johnny Ray Robinson was found guilty of first degree murder for the execution of Tony McLean and he was sentenced from my reading of up to 120 years in prison. We take the police for granted and with all the conversation going on now, as it should, regarding police misconduct, but when a police officer dies under the circumstances that Tony McLean did, it's a reflection of the failure of our society to do certain things correctly. This case in some ways shaped Ken's journey as a prosecutor. All of us who know him know he's not always the most warm and fuzzy, and shockingly, that's been said about me too. But, you know, he's this amazing, talented prosecutor. But he talks about this case as really opening his eyes to the human toll of these cases. In the course of my career, I prosecuted the killers of six police officers. There is something about those circumstances that makes 1 absorb the significance and importance of it. When you're confronted with the death of an on duty police officer doing his or her job, it's profound because you do appreciate a police officer simply doing his job and failed to come home because of the evil. Cowardice, immorality of people that are out there. You can't help but think about it. I think about Tony McLean fairly often because he was my first. He was doing nothing wrong, he was doing his job, and he didn't even have a chance to make a bad judgment. You know what got him killed had nothing to do with him except that he was wearing a uniform and wearing a badge. While there have always been homicides of police officers just like everybody else, they're increasing. If you look at 2021, of the many homicides that happened to police officers, 73 of them, according to FBI, were intentional killings or unprovoked attacks. National Police Week is held every may, and this year it's between May 11th and the 17th. It was really important to us to highlight a fallen law enforcement officer to commemorate the importance this week, in particular because of the risk that they take and at times succumbed to just because of the badge and the uniform they wear. We don't always know the motive in a homicide case, but in this one we do and it's sickening. Officer Tony McLean never had a chance. He is 1 of 22,000 officers who have died in the line of duty throughout U.S. history. Their names carved in a 304 foot long blue Gray limestone wall at the police memorial in Washington DC. We owe them all a debt of gratitude. There is also memorial specifically dedicated to fallen officers in New York City. There is a wall at one police Plaza in New York City that commemorates all those police officers who died in the line of duty. And for a long time his name was not up there. And it wasn't up there because he was not a member of the NYPD. He was a member of the New York City Housing Police, and their headquarters was in a different place. And it always bothered me. You know, fortunately, in doing a little research, it does sound like NYPD has corrected that. And yes, now Tony Mclean's name is on the Fallen Heroes memorial in New York City, along with so many of the other fallen officers that belong to the City of New York. But, you know, in thinking about this case, whenever I think about a law enforcement homicide, I think about a story that I heard about a she happened to be the wife of a police officer, and she talked about every day, subconsciously she waits when he gets home. To hear the heavy sound of his bulletproof vest as it hangs on a hook and the clink of his police belt with all that equipment as it hits the wall as he's walking in the door. And that's when she can breathe that sigh of relief, because she knows that he's gotten home safely that day. And so when I think about Tony McLean, his fiance, his family, as of April 13th, 1988, they never heard those sounds of safety again. So, Officer McLean, you know, you died in the line of duty, unprovoked, and you were serving the community that you wanted to help. And your name and your legacy now is forever etched in our mind and in our hearts. TuneIn next week for another new episode of Anatomy of Murder. Murder is an audio Chuck original produced and created by Weinberger Media and Forseti Media. Ashley Flowers and Summit David are executive producers. So what do you think, Chuck, do you approve? Umm.