The case of an alleged gang member accused in a near-fatal beating on the Bronx River Parkway resulted in a passionate ruling from a federal judge on the right of defendants to be free on bail.
Ramon Paulino, 21, is accused of bashing a 14-year-old boy with a piece of wood in a median of the Bronx River Parkway on June 18 during a gang beatdown. The victim was stabbed multiple times during the broad-daylight attack involving 11 alleged gang members. The victim nearly died after going into cardiac arrest.
The incident was caught on video and linked to the mistaken-identity slaying two days later of 15-year-old Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz who was dragged from a Bronx bodega and stabbed to death.
Prosecutors wanted Paulino held without bail. But in a 32-page decision, Manhattan Federal Court Judge Andrew Carter wrote that the government had only made “speculative” arguments about the danger to the community posed by the accused gangster, or his risk of flight.
“No deep reading of history books is necessary to to know that widespread pretrial detention is a relatively recent development in American law,” Carter wrote.
“Though he has a criminal history, it is not as substantial as one might expect for someone deemed so dangerous that pre-trial detention is mandated.”
The judge acknowledged that the evidence against Paulino was “weighty” and that he faced a serious charge of assault with a deadly weapon for the “brutal and heinous attack.”
But Carter still offered some perspective.
“The reality is that this case likely falls somewhere closer to the tropics on a hypothetical globe of violent criminal conduct,” he wrote.
Carter’s decision was ordered by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which sought clarity on the judge’s earlier, less-detailed ruling that Paulino should get bail.
Carter believed Paulino was unlikely to flee because he will soon be a father. Many members of Paulino’s family have attended his court appearances, also weighing in his favor.
Barring further appeal from prosecutors, Paulino will be released Monday on $100,000 bond, along with a requirement he not leave his home and wear a GPS tracking device, among other measures.
“Liberty before a criminal trial is, and always has been, the ‘norm,'” Carter wrote.
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