Three Panels Now Hear Cases for First Time Since Grand Juries were Suspended in March
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that 36 individuals have been indicted for various violent crimes during the first week that grand juries reconvened. Grand juries have not been impaneled since mid-March due to the Coronavirus pandemic. With three panels currently hearing cases, the DA’s Office obtained indictments on homicides, gang shootings, attempted murder, rape and other serious felonies. All of the defendants in these cases were previously held on bail or remanded and are still detained.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “With the resumption of grand juries, we are able to redouble our efforts at fighting violent crime in Brooklyn. The dozens of indictments we obtained over the past week ensure that dangerous offenders remain in custody as we seek to bring them to justice. I am grateful to the NYPD, to our other partners in law enforcement and to the prosecutors in my Office who were ready during these challenging times to quickly present their cases.”
The District Attorney said that grand juries were empaneled on August 11 and have been hearing cases since then. The cases that are being prioritized involve incarcerated defendants accused of violent felonies, including homicides, shootings and rape.
Among those indicted is Charles Hernandez who allegedly shot a man and a woman to death in East New York on June 27, 2020. The defendant allegedly disguised himself with a long blonde wig and a surgical mask as he fired multiple rounds at the victims. He was later apprehended in West Virginia. He has been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Also indicted was Marcus Worrell, charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting two victims, killing one and seriously wounding the other, inside a Brownsville deli on June 5, 2020.
Gang prosecutors indicted several defendants, including Olayinka Babatunde who’s been charged with attempted murder in connection with a September 2019 shooting. The defendant allegedly aimed at a group of rivals but struck two innocent women who were waiting to cross a Flatbush intersection. Indictments were obtained in two other gang-related cases, each charging three defendants. One was a shootout in a housing development courtyard during a July 4th barbecue attended by many families. The other involved an April shooting in which an innocent bystander was struck.
In all, the Homicide Bureau indicted 14 defendants and the Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau indicted 11 defendants, with the Special Victims Bureau and Trial Bureaus accounting for the other indictments. Numerous additional indictments are expected to be filed this week.