Eyewitnesses to last year's fatal stabbing of Utah tourist Brian Watkins in a subway station have not been able to identify the alleged killer in police lineups, a newspaper reported.
Court sources said prosecutors have decided to try the suspect, 19-year-old Yull Gary Morales, after seven other defendants because their case against Morales is weaker, New York Newsday said Thursday.Some of the defendants have confessed to participating in the Sept. 2, 1990, robbery of Watkins' father, Sherman, Newsday said. The Manhattan district attorney's office hopes to convince any defendants they convict to testify against Morales in exchange for leniency, said the sources, who were not identified.
Morales is charged with intentionally killing Watkins with a chrome-plated butterfly knife during a gang robbery on the subway platform at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street.
The Watkins family, of Provo, had returned from a day of watching tennis at the U.S. Open in Queens and was going to dinner when the attack occurred.
Newsday's sources said Morales did not confess to intentionally killing Watkins, but that the account he gave police is "riddled with inconsistencies." In a videotaped statement, he said the 22-year-old Watkins fell onto the knife.
Morales' lawyer, Joel Lutwin, told the newspaper that the case against his client "gets weaker and weaker every day." Lutwin said he would argue that Morales' arrest was unconstitutional and that any statements he made to police should be suppressed. "Without positive IDs in lineups and without a statement, they've got nothing," Lutwin said Wednesday. "Even with the statement, it's a pretty weak case."