A prosecutor in a Manhattan murder case could find herself on the witness stand answering uncomfortable questions about police stationhouse shenanigans, the defendant’s lawyer said.
Assistant District Attorney Antoinette Carter is leading the case against a man accused of helping to kill a Hofstra University graduate eight months ago.
Lawrence Dilione, 28, and his pal James Rackover, 26, have been charged with murdering Joseph Comunale, 26, after a house party at Rackover’s luxury East Side apartment Nov. 13.
Rackover’s swanky pad at E. 59th St. and Sutton Place, where the murder allegedly took place, was being funded by jeweler to the stars Jeffrey Rackover, whom he describes as his “adopted dad.”
Dilione’s lawyer Michael Pappa has made a hard pitch for records surrounding what Carter knew about alleged questionable tactics used to get a statement from Dilione.
“It is my intention to subpoena detectives and prosecutors in an attempt to get a complete picture of who knew what and when for the statements taken from Larry Dilione from the time he was first with the police and then in custody during the 40-hour period from Nov. 15 to Nov. 17,” Pappa said in a statement.
Dilione told cops he knocked out Comunale in Rackover’s apartment during a party, but that Rackover savagely beat, choked and repeatedly stabbed the doomed man.
Comunale’s body was found charred and dumped in a shallow grave in Oceanport, N.J.
Detectives illegally pried Dilione for statements — including directions to the location of the Comunale’s corpse — over a two-day period after it was established he was a murder suspect and represented by counsel, sources said.
Pappa previously requested a dossier on Carter’s involvement in the case at the early stages — including records of any contact she had with the police at the time they were grilling his client.
Carter was the “on call” homicide prosecutor in the office when the Comunale case came in.
“The fact that an ADA may serve as a fact witness in a hearing does not necessarily prevent him or her from trying the case,” said Manhattan DA spokeswoman Joan Vollero.
But prosecution ethics expert Bennett Gershman, a Pace Law School professor and former Manhattan assistant district attorney, said a prosecutor-turned-witness could not likely continue in a case.
“Once the prosecutor gets on the stand, the prosecutor is pretty much disqualified,” he said.
Gershman questioned whether a judge would be “that quick to order prosecutors to testify,” given the likely result for assistant district attorneys.
Dilione and Rackover are next due in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, when the DA’s office is expected to reply to Pappa’s request for Carter’s phone records and other communications.
A judge still has to formally order the pretrial hearing and could refuse to sign a subpoena forcing Carter or any other witness to the stand.