Full Acquittal: Attorney Goldstein Wins Not Guilty Verdict in Attempted Murder/Carjacking Case

Criminal Defense Attorneys Zak Goldstein and Demetra Mehta

Criminal Defense Attorneys Zak Goldstein and Demetra Mehta

The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys of Goldstein Mehta LLC have continued to find success on behalf of their clients in the courtroom, winning jury trials and motions to suppress in serious cases. Outside of the courtroom, we are also a source of insightful legal analysis on criminal defense issues in the news. Recently, our defense attorneys have won criminal cases involving charges ranging from Attempted Murder to DUI and Possession with the Intent to Deliver. Some of our recent wins include: 

Commonwealth v. R. R. – Jury Acquits Client of Attempted Murder, Carjacking, and Related Charges

R.R. was charged with Attempted Murder, Robbery of a Motor Vehicle (carjacking), Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Conspiracy, and related gun charges. Prosecutors alleged that R.R. and a friend robbed the complainant after a drug deal, taking his cell phone, car keys, and a small amount of money. R.R. then shot the complainant twice when the complainant tried to demand that R.R. return the car keys. The complainant, however, initially denied to police at the scene that he knew who shot him. He was then briefly interviewed by detectives at the hospital, and he again reiterated that he did not know the person who shot him. 

A few days later, after police allegedly received an anonymous tip that R.R. was the shooter in this incident, Philadelphia detectives re-interviewed the complainant. This time, he told them that R.R., a long-time friend, was the person who shot him and stole his car. A second witness also allegedly came forward a few days later and claimed to have been smoking marijuana with the complainant just before the shooting and that she was still present at the scene when R.R. shot the complainant. She called 911 right at the time of the shooting, but when police arrived at the scene, she refused to give a statement. She also did not claim that R.R. was involved in the shooting for a week or two. When she did finally give a statement, she said that she saw R.R. in the area right before the shooting, but she did not see the shooting itself. At trial, of course, she changed her story and testified that she personally saw R.R. shoot the complainant. In addition to the witness statements, police obtained cell phone records that showed that R.R. and the complainant had exchanged a number of text messages and phone calls directly before the shooting. Police also recovered the complainant’s car a few days later and held it for fingerprints and DNA .  

Based on these later statements of the complainant and the eyewitness in which they claimed that R.R. was the shooter, police arrested R.R. and charged him with Attempted Murder and related charges. R.R. rejected the Commonwealth’s plea offer and decided to proceed by way of a jury trial. At trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully argue to the jury that the witnesses had fabricated their statements. Attorney Goldstein highlighted the fact that the complainant gave two separate statements right after the shooting in which he did not tell police that R.R. shot him. He also impeached the eyewitness on the fact that she did not come forward for weeks and was on probation for theft at the time that she made the statement. He also confronted her with her original statement in which she never said that she actually saw the shooting itself. Finally, Attorney Goldstein called the police department’s own DNA analyst as a witness to testify that the steering wheel and gear shift of the complainant’s car had been tested for DNA and they had been unable to match the DNA to R.R. 

In closing, Attorney Goldstein argued that the Commonwealth had simply failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The DNA did not match R.R., there was no other physical evidence linking him to the crime, and both the complainant and eyewitness had failed to either implicate R.R. or come forward after the shooting. Both have given multiple contradictory statements, and even the assigned detective had given testimony that was impeached through his own police reports. The jury deliberated for approximately two hours before acquitting R.R. of all charges. R.R., who had been held pending the trial, was released from custody. 

Commonwealth v. A.R. – Motion to Suppress Granted in DUI Case

Police arrested and charged A.R. with driving under the influence of marijuana and Xanax. The arresting officer claimed that he saw A.R. driving through Philadelphia with a defective center brake light, which is a violation of the motor vehicle code. Based on the defective brake light, the officer activated his lights and sirens and attempted to pull A.R. over. The officer claimed that A.R. refused to pull over for numerous blocks and seemed like he was trying to flee from the officer. Further, after A.R. did eventually pull over, the officer approached the car and immediately noticed the strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The officer further testified that A.R. had slurred speech, slow movements, was uncooperative, and admitted to smoking marijuana.

On paper, the case looked very difficult. Fortunately, A.R. retained Attorney Goldstein. Attorney Goldstein litigated a motion to suppress the statement regarding smoking marijuana and the blood test which showed the presence of marijuana and Xanax in A.R.’s blood. At the hearing on the motion, the officer testified that A.R. refused to pull over and immediately blurted out that he had been smoking weed, but the officer’s report directly contradicted his testimony. In his report, the officer specified the exact location at which he claimed he initially saw A.R. operating the car with the broken brake light and the location at which A.R. eventually pulled over. Although the officer testified that A.R. attempted to flee when the officer activated his lights and sirens, Attorney Goldstein was able to use a map of the area to show that in reality, A.R. had pulled over within two or three blocks at most of first coming into contact with the police officer. Given that A.R. actually pulled over within two or three blocks, the testimony that A.R. refused to pull over simply did not make any sense.

Further, the officer eventually admitted that he had not even waited for A.R. to roll down the window but had instead immediately opened the car door himself. Attorney Goldstein argued at the motion to suppress hearing that the Philadelphia Municipal Court judge should reject the officer’s testimony as not credible because of the obvious contradiction provided by the map and find that the officer engaged in an illegal search of the car when he opened the car door himself without giving A.R. the opportunity to roll the window down. Attorney Goldstein also called the police officer who conducted the blood draw at the police station an hour or two after the arrest to testify that he had not recorded any observations of intoxication or odor of marijuana on the report that this second officer created when he came into contact with A.R.

The Municipal Court judge agreed with Attorney Goldstein and granted the motion to suppress. Without the critical blood evidence and incriminating statement, prosecutors had no choice but to withdraw all charges. 

Commonwealth v. K.H. – Judge Acquits Client of Drug Charges Following Bench Trial

Police charged K.H. with Possession with the Intent to Deliver, Knowing and Intentional Possession of a Controlled Substance, Conspiracy, and Possessing an Instrument of Crime. Prosecutors alleged that K.H. and another man sold drugs in Kensington. Philadelphia narcotics officers claimed that they set up surveillance from a vehicle parked down the block and began watching as the alleged buyers approached. The officer claimed that the buyers would each hand money to K.H.’s co-defendant, who was standing on the sidewalk, and then K.H., who was standing in an alley, would hand small items consistent with narcotics packaging to the alleged buyers. As the alleged buyers exited the block, back up officers would arrive and take them into custody. Police successfully stopped four of the five alleged buyers and found that they had drugs on them. Concluding that K.H. and the co-defendant must have been selling drugs, police then moved in to search the alley, the abandoned house nearby, and to arrest the defendants.

Police arrested K.H. and found that he had $40 on him. They arrested the co-defendant, who tried to run. They also found drugs which matched those found on the alleged buyers in the alley, and they found a shotgun in a nearby abandoned house which the surveillance officer claimed that he had seen K.H. briefly enter and exit. K.H. was arrested after walking in and out of a different house on the corner of the block. Officers claimed that they entered and searched both the abandoned house and the house which K.H. had walked out of right before being arrested. 

K.H. immediately retained Goldstein Mehta LLC for his defense. At the preliminary hearing, recognizing that the case would become significantly less serious if K.H. were not facing gun charges, our criminal defense attorneys focused on getting the Possessing Instrument of Crime charge which stemmed from the discovery of the shotgun in the abandoned house dismissed. Attorney Goldstein extensively cross-examined the police witnesses on whether they had ever seen K.H. in possession of the gun, whether the gun was out in the open in the abandoned house, and whether police had attempted to obtain fingerprints or DNA from the shotgun. Because the shotgun was hidden, police never saw K.H. in possession of it, and police had not bothered to conduct any forensic testing on the gun, Attorney Goldstein was successfully able to move for the dismissal of the gun charge. Attorney Goldstein also cross-examined the main police officer on the location from which he was supposedly watching the drug sales, which would become extremely important at trial. 

K.H. then elected to proceed to a bench trial in which the trial judge, instead of a jury, makes the decision as to guilt. At the bench trial, the narcotics officers testified to roughly the same story that they had provided at the preliminary hearing. They claimed that K.H. provided small objects, which later turned out to be drugs, to five alleged buyers. They also claimed that they were successfully able to stop and arrest four of those five buyers and recover the drugs which K.H. had allegedly sold.

On cross-examination, however, Attorney Goldstein was able to use photographs of the crime scene to establish that the officer would not have been able to see into the alley to see who was actually making the drug sales from the location in which he said he was parked at the preliminary hearing. Attorney Goldstein also successfully established that the officer had searched the corner property on the street without a search warrant. Although the officer tried to claim that he could legally search the property without a warrant because the property was abandoned, Attorney Goldstein used photographs of the house and K.H.’s lease for the property to show that the property was not abandoned and police had entered the house without a warrant. Finally, Attorney Goldstein introduced character evidence which showed the judge that K.H. had never been arrested before and had an excellent reputation in the community for being a peaceful, law-abiding citizen. After recognizing that K.H. had no prior record, had not been found in actual possession of any drugs, and that the abandoned house was not actually abandoned, the trial judge found that she had reasonable doubt as to whether K.H. was actually the person in the alley. The judge found K.H. Not Guilty of all charges despite the fact that police claimed to have seen him selling drugs to five separate people. 

Attorney Goldstein Quoted in Philly.com Articles on Indecent Assault and Impact of #MeToo Movement on Criminal Defense Strategies

In addition to winning cases in the courtroom, our attorneys are often asked for analysis of criminal defense issues by the media. For example, Attorney Goldstein was recently quoted in two separate articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer. 

In one article, Attorney Goldstein was asked to provide insight on how attorneys are responding to the #MeToo Movement in sexual assault cases. You can read the article here. 

In the other article, Attorney Goldstein was asked to comment on the potential charges a person could face for groping a stranger in public and whether the victim would face charges if he or she responded by punching the groper. You can read the article here. 

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If you are under investigation or facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, we can help. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended thousands of clients in state and federal courts throughout PA and NJ. We are experienced and understanding defense attorneys with the skill and ability to help you with your case, and we are not afraid to take a case to trial. We offer a free 15-minute criminal defense strategy session to each potential client. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with a criminal defense attorney today.