Pretrial hearings began here Tuesday for the youth charged with stabbing Hasidic scholar Yankel Rosenbaum to death last summer during the riots in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood.
Lemrick Nelson, 17, is the only one of a group of attackers who has been charged with Rosenbaum’s death.
In the opening court procedure, a New York City police officer testified that on the night of Aug. 19, 1991, he saw 10 men punching and kicking Rosenbaum on the ground.
Rosenbaum died several hours later at the hospital with four stab wounds in his back, one of which went unnoticed by doctors.
Nelson’s attorney, Arthur Lewis, argued before New York State Supreme Court Justice Edward Rappaport that his client was improperly arrested and that statements he made to police should not be allowed as evidence.
Lewis also argued that the bloodstained knife police found in Nelson’s front pants pocket should not be admitted as evidence.
According to Lewis, Nelson was part of the group of as many of 20 men who attacked Rosenbaum, but he said his client did not stab the student.
Rosenbaum was an Australian scholar who was visiting the Lubavitch community when racial tensions erupted after the accidental killing of a 7-year-old boy, Gavin Cato, by an out-of-control car belonging to the Lubavitcher rebbe’s entourage.
The judge said that jury selection was to begin Wednesday and that he expects the trial to get under way by Sept. 21.