Thursday, November 03, 2005

Will DNA testing clear the "Mafia Cops"?

Friends of ours: Gambino Crime Family, Luchese Crime Family, Edward "Eddie" Lino, Anthony "Gas Pipe" Casso
Friends of Mine: Louis Eppolito and Stephen Carappa

Ex-detectives Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, accused of being hit men for the mob, are seeking to have DNA tests run on a watch found at the scene of one of their alleged gangland murders, sources familiar with the case told Newsday. Legal and law enforcement sources said the defense believes the tests might help to show that Eppolito and Caracappa had nothing to do with the murder and thus cast doubt about other elements of the prosecution's case.

"This might be so important that I think it is better I not say anything," said defense attorney Ed Hayes, who is representing Caracappa.

Among the 10 murders that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have accused the former cops of being involved in is the Nov. 6, 1990, killing of Gambino family captain Edward "Eddie" Lino. The slaying occurred by the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn.

Lino was believed by investigators to have been one of a group of men involved in an unsuccessful attempt to kill former Luchese crime boss Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso. It was Casso, federal investigators believe, who used Eppolito and Caracappa as alleged mob moles and assassins. Lino was killed after Eppolito and Caracappa followed him from his social club and forced him to pull over as he drove along the parkway, according to the federal charges.

Prosecutors recently turned over numerous pieces of evidence, including the investigative reports about Lino's murder, to defense attorneys. One of the documents indicated that a Pulsar watch was found at the Lino crime scene and that it contained some strands of brown human hair, said a lawyer familiar with the case but who asked not to be identified.

In a letter sent to federal prosecutors Tuesday, Hayes said he wanted to examine the watch and any diagrams, photos and test results related to it. Hayes noted in his letter that only fingerprint tests had been done on the watch and asked that "complete testing" be done. Though the Hayes letter didn't mention DNA tests, sources familiar with the case said defense attorneys believe DNA testing might show the hair strands were not from Caracappa or Eppolito. A law enforcement source, who also asked not to be identified, said it was unclear if the DNA that may be discovered from testing would be definitive about anything related to the case.

Thanks to ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO of Newsday

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