Convict’s Mother Digs Up Dirt on Juror

NEW YORK (Dec. 12) – When her son was convicted of murder, Doreen Giuliano was so convinced of his innocence that she made it her mission to save him from a life behind bars. So, the 46-year-old Brooklyn mother went undercover. Giuliano gave herself an extreme makeover, dyeing her hair blond, hitting the gym and tanning salon and investing in a sexy wardrobe. She took on a phony name and left her spacious home for a basement apartment.

Then, Giuliano began spying on jurors, befriending one in particular in hopes of rooting out any possible misconduct at the trial. For nearly eight months, she says, they hung out at bars, smoked marijuana and shared meals in her tiny Brooklyn hideaway.

The juror, Jason Allo, was completely unaware that this seductive older woman was the same devoted mother who was a constant presence at her son’s trial. Eventually, she says, he offered her information that became the basis for a defense motion demanding her son’s conviction be overturned.

“What she did was extraordinarily commendable,” said one of Giuliano’s lawyers, Ezra Glaser. “It shows the love of a mother and the great lengths she’ll go to to help her child.”

Allo doesn’t quite see it that way. He faces the possibility of being hauled into court to explain conversations recorded by an undercover mother wearing a wire.

“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said his attorney, Salvatore Strazzullo. “We’re going to defend Mr. Allo’s actions to the full extent of the law.”

Among other things, the motion accuses the 33-year-old Allo of concealing that he had personal knowledge that Giuliano’s son, John Giuca, ran with a rough crowd, and of defying orders to avoid news coverage once the highly publicized proceedings started. It argues that Allo “admitted the outside information he obtained about the case prejudiced him against Mr. Giuca.”

A spokesman for the Brooklyn district attorney’s office said only that the motion was being reviewed. But the defense is a long shot: Courts rarely overturn guilty jury verdicts.

Giuca was convicted of the 2003 murder of Mark Fisher, a 19-year-old college student from Andover, N.J., who had gone to an after-hours party Giuca hosted in Brooklyn while his parents were out of town.

Prosecutors say Giuca, then a skinny 20-year-old, was a leader of a self-styled gang called the Ghetto Mafia. At trial, prosecutors said Fisher was targeted for showing “disrespect” by sitting on a table in Giuca’s house.

Giuca ordered another gang member “to go show that guy what’s up,” then gave the shooter a .22-caliber handgun, prosecutors said. At dawn, police responding to a report of gunshots found Fisher’s body shot five times and dumped on a sidewalk.

It took more than a year for police to arrest the suspect later convicted of carrying out the shooting. Giuca was taken into custody one month later after authorities secured witnesses who linked him to the crime.

A jury deliberated only two hours before convicting Giuca of second-degree murder in 2005. He and the gunman were sentenced to 25 years to life in prison by a judge who told them that because the killing was callous, “my sentence will be callous.”

Court papers – along with a piece in Vanity Fair magazine and an article in The New York Times based on interviews with Giuliano and Allo – detail a story of despair and deception.

Giuliano says she was driven by the belief her son was set up by authorities and vilified in the press.

“My main concern was that John got a fair trial,” she said.

Said Allo: “I understand her motivation, but that’s not right.”

Allo’s lawyer declined to discuss Giuliano’s tactics. But her lawyer said that under state law, she “had a right to record those conversations.”

“Ultimately, the only person who acted inappropriately was Mr. Allo,” Glaser said.

She eventually zeroed in on Allo, a construction worker with a shaved head living in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. She tailed him for months, once even wearing a head scarf as a disguise.

While casing his apartment, she noticed that “his cat sat in the window,” she said. “So I knew I’d say I was a cat-lover when I met him.”

In the fall of 2007, Giuliano reinvented herself. She slimmed down at the gym, rented an apartment in Allo’s neighborhood and printed business cards with her assumed name: Dee Quinn, a recent West Coast transplant.

Her husband initially told her she was crazy, but backed down. Soon she orchestrated a seemingly chance meeting with Allo on the street, pretending to be a lonely single woman from California and giving him her phone number.

Giuliano began inviting Allo over to her place and to soften him up. He never recognized her from her days sitting through the trial.

“She was offering me wine, offering to smoke weed,” he said.

There also was flirting. But both said it never went any further. Mainly, they talked. And her digital tape recorder rolled.

She says she struck gold in late 2007, while grilling her new friend about his jury duty.

“I’ll tell you this but I would never tell anybody else,” he said, according to transcripts prepared by the defense. “I actually had some type of information.”

Allo went on to explain that he didn’t know Giuca directly, but used to hang out in his clique and heard rumors about the Fisher slaying – something he failed to mention when questioned under oath during jury selection. Asked if he had been curious about newspaper accounts of the trial, he responded that he’d read them. He also bragged that he had been the first one during deliberations to vote for a conviction.

“Technically, by law, I shouldn’t have even been in that jury,” Allo said, according to Vanity Fair. “Because they ask you in the beginning when you go to jury duty, they read you a list of all the witnesses. … And if you know or are affiliated with these people in any way you have to let them know.”

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Giuliano recalled the time Allo opened up about his time as a juror, saying the revelations made her feel sick.

“Then I pushed every emotion deep into my gut and continued on,” Giuliano said. “Remember, this guy I am meeting took my son away from me, and I have to laugh at his jokes, agree with everything he says, and all along I want to punch him in his face.”

Find out more on this story from Vanity Fair.

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Copyright 2008, Reuters

2008-12-04 20:58:16

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