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Jun 14, 2017 10:18 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Guilty Verdict Handed Down In Home Invasion And Sexual Assault Trial

Marvin Siciliano-Nunez
Jun 14, 2017 8:54 PM

Marvin Siciliano-Nunez, the man accused of breaking into a home in Southampton Village and sexually assaulting a young woman who was sleeping in the house while threatening her with a baseball bat last summer, was convicted of six criminal counts on Wednesday afternoon—including felony first-degree rape and first-degree burglary—following less than a day of deliberations by jurors.

Jurors reconvened inside the Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverside at around 12:15 p.m., and the verdict was read about 10 minutes later: guilty of six counts, including first-degree attempted rape, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and first-degree criminal sex act, all felonies, and two counts of criminal obstruction of breathing, both misdemeanors.

Mr. Siciliano-Nunez, 20, was found not guilty of first-degree burglary to complete a sexually motivated felony. Two other charges, including misdemeanor resisting arrest, were dropped on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Siciliano-Nunez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who lives in Hampton Bays, faces up to 25 years in jail when he is sentenced on August 2.

"Obviously we're dissappointed," said David Geller, Mr. Siciliano-Nunez's attorney, noting that he plans to appeal the decision.

Assistant District Attorney Anne E. Oh declined to comment on the verdict.

The jury’s verdict seemed to depend on whether Mr. Siciliano-Nunez, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who lives in Hampton Bays, was drunk at the time of the incident. Defense attorneys filed for a mistrial on Wednesday, June 7, saying the district attorney’s office had withheld evidence that he was still intoxicated at the time of his arrest, but that request was denied.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense gave closing arguments on Tuesday before the case was handed to the jury at 1:40 p.m. for deliberation. Mr. Siciliano-Nunez’s attorneys, Mr. Geller and Adam Markou of the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, both said they expected the deliberation to be short. Evidence provided by Ms. Oh did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their client was in his right mind at the time of the crimes, they said.

In her closing statement, however, Ms. Oh said the evidence against Mr. Siciliano-Nunez was overwhelming.

“This case is about the evidence,” Ms. Oh told the jurors. “We know it was this defendant. We know it was him. This is not a whodunit.”

Ms. Oh said there was no denying that Mr. Siciliano-Nunez was in the home of the 19-year-old woman, who took the stand last week and whose name is being withheld by The Press due to the nature of the crime. Mr. Siciliano-Nunez had been treated at Southampton Hospital in the early morning hours of the day of the incident, and his discharge papers were found in the house and his hospital bracelet nearby, Ms. Oh noted. When he was detained by police he also was in possession of items including a black bra, that had been in the house, the assistant district attorney said.

When the 19-year-old victim took the stand last week, she testified that Mr. Siciliano-Nunez had pushed her to her knees and forced her to perform a sexual act while holding a baseball bat over her head, then attempted to rape her while clenching her throat and covering her mouth. She said she pretended to give in but told him she needed to let her dogs out of the room, which he agreed to let her do. At that point she was able to escape from the house, undressed, she said. Mr. Siciliano-Nunez pursued her with the bat but stopped chasing her when she ran toward a group of workers, she testified in court last week.

“[The victim] used the one weapon she had in the house: her brain,” Ms. Oh told the jurors on Tuesday. “This is about you believing what [the victim] said when she took the stand.”

Defense attorneys countered that Ms. Oh had coached the young woman in how to answer questions and appeared calm and collected considering what she had been through.

Mr. Geller told jurors that Ms. Oh had the young woman walk less than five feet away from Mr. Siciliano-Nunez in the courtroom to point at a map, suggesting that the attorney was trying to manipulate the jury into feeling sympathy for the victim by demonstrating the victim’s fear of Mr. Siciliano-Nunez.

Mr. Geller noted that a hospital video played during the trial showed Mr. Siciliano-Nunez zigzagging as he walked down a hall in the hospital and that he appeared to be intoxicated just before being discharged at 6:58 a.m. on August 5, 2016. The defense attorney also said the nurse who performed a sexual assault analysis did not report any swelling, bruising or marks on the victim’s neck or tears in her mouth.

Mr. Geller noted that a bat was never recovered and suggested that one in fact had never been used.

Ms. Oh countered that the bat may have been hidden and said it was clear based on witnesses’ testimony that a bat had been used in the crime.

According to Mr. Geller, Ms. Oh waited until the trial had begun to provide the defense attorneys with a suicide prevention screening form that Southampton Village Police Officer Lee Pulliam had filled out on the day of the incident. Officer Pulliam noted on that form, at 4:19 p.m. that day, that Mr. Siciliano-Nunez “is still under the influence.”

The withholding of that information led the defense attorneys to file for a mistrial last Wednesday, and a special hearing was held the next day. In his plea for a mistrial, Mr. Markou told Suffolk County Court Justice Peter H. Mayer that Ms. Oh’s withholding the form hurt their case with prejudice.

“Knowing there are contradictions … we may have cross-examined deeper,” Mr. Markou said. “We believe there is an issue of intoxication. She admitted to the court that she withheld this.”

Ms. Oh did admit to withholding the form, but noted that Officer Pulliam had said that Mr. Siciliano-Nunez did not appear intoxicated, as did Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison and Southampton Village Ordinance Inspector Angel Perez, who had to translate during the arrest since Spanish is Mr. Siciliano-Nunez’s primary language.

One of Mr. Geller’s arguments from the beginning of the trial had been that Mr. Siciliano-Nunez never directly wrote his statement, but instead gave a verbal statement to Mr. Perez, who translated it for Det. Sgt. Lamison to type in English.

Mr. Geller also said Mr. Siciliano-Nunez was not questioned until after 1 p.m., instead of around 10 a.m. when he was first taken to Southampton Village Police headquarters. Mr. Siciliano-Nunez also was not fed until after 11:30 p.m., Mr. Geller said.

When Justice Mayer denied the request for a mistrial he stipulated that additional instructions would be given to jurors before Officer Pulliam’s testimony and before the case was handed over to the jury for a decision.

In closing, Mr. Geller told jurors that District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office will do anything to win a case, even suggesting that Ms. Oh’s influence on the trial should be looked into because of the way she coached witnesses and withheld information.

Ms. Oh shot that down by saying the defense attorneys were doing whatever it took to turn the focus away from the evidence at hand.

“The elephant in the room is the circus act,” Ms. Oh said. “The defense wants you to believe only certain parts.

“This is not a case of conspiracy,” she continued. “This is a case where there is overwhelming evidence.”

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