bolster this claim, Schwartz called a Dominican surgeon with intimate
knowledge of his hospital's patient records. Through an interpreter,
Dr. Pablo Frias testified that the records show Casanova being treated
for burns three times in July of 2000, beginning July 20, two days
before the fire.
cross-examination, District Attorney Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi asked
Frias to consider whether the entries for Casanova looked "smushed
in." The prosecution asserts the entries are actually forgeries
penned after the fire by Casanova. The landlord worked as a medical
intern at Frias' hospital at the time of the blaze.
was the second time that Frias and Nicolazzi had had this exchange.
The doctor testified in Casanova's first murder trial, which concluded
in February with a six-to-six hung jury. During their previous exchange,
the doctor admitted that the records book is often left unattended,
on top of an administrative desk, where Casanova could have had
access to it. Yesterday, when Frias insisted the records are always
returned to a desk drawer, Nicolazzi read him his old testimony,
pointing out the contradiction.
became visibly frustrated. "A desk has drawers!" he blurted. The
exclamation drew surprised laughter from one jury member. The defendant
think he has no remorse," said Carolyn Lee, aunt of the deceased
Sims. "You have to understand, I'm angry. And they're cold-hearted
people him and his whole family."
and a clutch of relatives stayed through all of yesterday's proceedings,
as they have every day through both of Casanova's trials. On the
aunt's right sat Sims' mother, who watched the day's motions with
a leaden sadness while clutching a locket engraved with her daughter's
the time of her death, Sims was attending a slumber party thrown
by her best friend, Kendra Carter, 15. According to the Daily
News, Carter brought jurors to tears earlier this month when she
testified how she dragged both Ashley and her dog out onto the window
ledge to escape the flame-filled apartment.
had my dog under my arm and I had Ashley," Carter testified. "I
had her by the hand and I was telling her to go underneath the window.
That's when she fell to the floor."
didn't get up," Carter said.
building had no fire escapes and no functioning sprinkler system,
safety violations for which he had been cited several times. Each
time Casanova failed to make the appropriate corrections.
the owner of the building, he knew the sprinkler system didn't work,
that the valve in the basement was turned off," said District Attorney
Kyle Reeves, who is trying Casanova for the second time. "There
were no fire escapes, and the building was fully occupied. Someone
as intelligent as Mr. Casanova should have seen the consequences
of his actions."
arrived as residents were jumping from windows and hanging from
ledges. Their efforts brought many of the brownstone's children
to safety. But Sims had suffered terminal smoke inhalation and was
burned on 90 percent of her body.
counselor Schwartz said he would make one more attempt to find Casanova's
elusive father and introduce him as the defense's second and last
witness. If the father remains out of contact, Schwartz said, the
defense will rest today after a single day of testimony.
prosecution has been presenting its case since Sept. 6.
Casanova's trial concluded on October 5, 2002. On the
charge of second degree murder, the Brooklyn jury found Casanova