A Flailing Defense Effort by Alleged Anti-Gay Killer

Mark Carson was 32 when he was gunned down in the West Village in May 2013. | NYPD HANDOUT

Mark Carson was 32 when he was gunned down in the West Village in May 2013. | NYPD HANDOUT

Suggesting that the defense is in serious trouble, the accused killer of Mark Carson is on his third attorney in roughly 15 months, has filed a letter and two of his own motions with the judge in the case, and even considered representing himself at his trial for Carson’s 2013 homicide.

“According to my attorney, [Kevin Canfield], there exists video that substantiates my testimony and I believe that this is why my attorney, Mr. Canfield, along with the District Attorney strategically kept me from appearing in front of the grand jury denying me the right to testify and having given my version of the true events of that night,” Elliot Morales wrote in a January 2014 motion to Charles H. Solomon, the judge in the case.

In that motion and a second that was filed at the same time, Morales asked that his indictment be dismissed. Morales said he learned he had a right to appear before the grand jury only after the indictment was issued and that he told Canfield before then that he wanted to testify. Criminal defendants rarely appear before grand juries.

Three different attorneys, 15 hearings for defendant in Mark Carson murder

In a January letter that he sent to Solomon, Morales wrote that he had evidence that will “undoubtably [sic] demonstrate that this, in fact, was not a crime committed with ‘intent’ or out of ‘hate’ of any sort. On the contrary, however, this same evidence will also demonstrate that I was not the aggressor and that it had been me that was not only confronted but pursued and provoked as well.”

Morales, 34, is charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, weapons possession, and menacing in the May 18 shooting last year. Allegedly, he followed Carson and a friend in the West Village. After taunting them with anti-gay slurs, he asked Carson, “Are you with him?” and when Carson answered, “Yes,” Morales allegedly shot the 32-year-old Carson.

The defense already faced daunting evidence. Morales made roughly 20 statements to police and admitted to the killing in six. He was arrested within minutes of the shooting and he was carrying the pistol that was used to kill Carson. Four witnesses identified him at the time of the shooting. Another witness, who may be among the four, was on the phone with 911 when Carson was shot.

“He shot a man in the head while his friend was on the phone with 911 trying to stop the violence,” Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, the prosecutor in the case, said at an April 22 hearing.

Last year, Canfield filed notice that he would pursue an extreme emotional disturbance defense, commonly known as an insanity defense, but Morales’s second attorney, Daniel Gotlin, said at the April 22 hearing that Morales never consented to that defense and would not allow it. Gotlin has since been replaced by Glenn F. Hardy.

Hardy told Gay City News that Morales has already made “the most important comment one can make on a case like this, which is ‘not guilty.’” He added, “I am working with him. I have a good working relationship with him at the moment.”

Gotlin declined to comment and Canfield did not respond to a request for comment.

With an upcoming September 2 hearing, Morales will have appeared before Solomon 15 times, which is a high number. Morales discussed representing himself with Solomon at the April 22 hearing.

Records that were released with the indictment suggest that Morales is, at a minimum, a volatile man. In his statements to police, he alternated between brutal bravado, worrying that he had shot a police officer, and self-pity.

“I killed him, he was trying to act tough so I shot him,” Morales told police. “Guy thought he was tough in front of his bitch so I shot him. Diagnosis is dead doctor.”

Morales told police his sister “is a crackhead” and that he never knew his father. His mother is a diabetic with high blood pressure and “other issues,” he said.

“I always hurt her and make bad decisions in life and make her cry,” Morales said. “She will die after this.”

At one point, he asked police if the person he shot was dead. Upon being told “Not yet,” Morales “became very upset and vomited in the garbage pail,” according to one police statement.

The Carson killing is the second violent felony that Morales has been charged with. In 1998, Morales and two other men, John Kehinde, then 17, and Daniel Olivencia, then 18, beat, bound, and robbed three young women in an East Village apartment.

Morales wielded a machete in that attack. Morales and Olivencia choked the women, with Morales saying, “I’m going to put her to sleep,” according to court records in the case. They also hit the women with a metal pipe. Charged with attempted murder, multiple robbery and burglary counts, and assault, Morales pleaded guilty to robbery in 1999 and was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison. He served 10 years.