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Tankleff v. The County of Suffolk

United States District Court, E.D. New York

June 23, 2017

MARTIN TANKLEFF, Plaintiff,
v.
THE COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, THERESA and BRETT MCCREADY, as legal successors of K. JAMES MCCREADY, NORMAN REIN, CHARLES KOSCIUK, ROBERT DOYLE, JOHN MCELHONE, JOHN DOE POLICE OFFICERS 1-10, and RICHARD ROE SUFFOLK COUNTY EMPLOYEES 1-10, Defendants.

          For Plaintiff: Anna B. Hoffman, Esq. Barry C. Scheck, Esq. Emma Kate Freudenberger, Esq. Nick Joel Brustin, Esq. Amelia Green, Esq. Vanessa Michelle Buch, Esq. Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP, Bruce A. Barket, Esq. Amy Beth Marion, Esq. Barket Marion Epstein & Kearon LLP, Barry J. Pollack, Esq. Miller & Chevalier Chartered

          For Defendants: Brian C. Mitchell, Esq. Susan A. Flynn, Esq.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOANNA SEYBERT, U.S.D.J.

         In 1990, Plaintiff Martin Tankleff (“Plaintiff”) was convicted of murdering his parents in the family home in Belle Terre, New York. After his conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed, he commenced this action against the County of Suffolk (the “County”), Detective K. James McCready[1], Detective Norman Rein, Detective Charles Kosciuk, Sergeant Robert Doyle, Lieutenant John McElhone[2] and unknown police officers and county employees (collectively “Defendants”) alleging that Defendants violated his constitutional rights under the United States and New York State Constitutions. Currently pending before the Court is Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. (Defs.' Mot., Docket Entry 180.) For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Factual Background[3]

         A. The Crime and Preliminary Investigation

         At approximately 6:11 a.m. on September 7, 1988, Plaintiff called 911 from his father's office to report that he had found his father, Seymour Tankleff (“Seymour”), with blood “gushing” from his neck. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt., ¶¶ 1, 3; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp., ¶¶ 1, 3.) While he waited for assistance, the 911 operator instructed Plaintiff to apply pressure to the wound with a clean towel, lay him down and elevate his feet. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 1; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 1.) In subsequent statements, Plaintiff said that after he used the office phone to call 911, he placed a pillow under Seymour's feet and a towel around his throat. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 4, 6; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 4, 6.) He testified that while assisting his father, he got blood on his hands, arms, shoulders, upper body, legs, and feet. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 197-98; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 197-98.) Plaintiff said that after doing this, he began looking for his mother, Arlene Tankleff (“Arlene”), and opened the door to the garage to see if her car was there.[4] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 8; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 8.) After seeing his mother's car in the garage, he said he continued to look for her and eventually saw her body in the bedroom. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 8; Trial Tr. (Tankleff), Defs.' Ex. B, 4119:21-4120:19.)[5] He said he saw her body from the doorway of the master bedroom but did not go past the alarm wall, a short wall near the entrance of the bedroom. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 204; Pl.'s Ex. 42, Docket Entry 184-48.) He testified that after seeing her body, he ran into the kitchen and called his sister. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 8; Trial Tr. (Tankleff) 4120:25-4121:4.) After talking to her, he testified that he checked on his father, who was “still breathing or gagging, ” ran back to the kitchen to answer a call from his sister and called his best friend to tell him he would not be picking him up on the way to school that morning.[6] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 26-27; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 26-27; Trial Tr. (Tankleff) 4121:17-4123:23.)

         After making those calls, Plaintiff alleges that he went into his bedroom, wiped his hands on a towel and put on a sweatshirt before running next door to his neighbor's house.[7] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 29; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 29-30.) His neighbor, Martin Hova (“Hova”), testified that he heard screaming and when he answered the door, he saw Plaintiff barefoot and wearing shorts and a sweatshirt.[8] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 30.) Hova testified that he accompanied Plaintiff back to his house and encountered Officers James Crayne (“Officer Crayne”) and Daniel Gallagher (“Officer Gallagher”), who were responding to the 911 call. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 31.) Officers Crayne and Gallagher testified that when they arrived Plaintiff yelled “somebody murdered my parents.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 31.) Officer Crayne later described Plaintiff as “agitated, ” and both officers observed blood on Plaintiff's “palms, the right side of his face, on his right calf and on his right foot.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 32; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 32.)

         Hova testified that when they were in the office, he asked Plaintiff who had done this, and Plaintiff responded “my father's business partner, Jerry.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 33.) Plaintiff was referring to Jerry Steuerman (“Steuerman”), a business associate of Seymour's who had been at the Tankleff home the previous night for a poker game. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 66, 173.) Officer Crayne noticed that there was a towel over Seymour's neck and asked Seymour who was responsible. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 36; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 36.) Officer Crayne testified that Seymour did not respond, but Plaintiff said “it was Jerry Steuerman.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 36; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 36.)

         Officer Gallagher testified that he asked Plaintiff to come into the kitchen and tell him what happened. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 36.) According to Officer Gallagher, Plaintiff told him that “he woke up that morning, the lights were on in the house, the alarm was turned off and he found his father, ” and further stated that “the only person who had motive to do this was Jerry Steuerman.”[9] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 36; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 36; Trial Tr. (Gallagher) 275:17-21.) Officer Gallagher testified that when he stood at the threshold of the bedroom, he saw Arlene's head on the floor “partially sticking out from the end of the bed, ” but it was not until he was standing directly over her that he was able to observe the extent of her injuries. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 35; Trial Tr. (Gallagher) 260:7-10.)

         Emergency medical personnel arrived at the Tankleff home at approximately 6:27 a.m. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 3.) They found Seymour unresponsive and lying on the floor of his office “covered with dried blood.” (Seymour Prehospital Care Report, Pl.'s Ex. 32, Docket Entry 184-38, at 2.) He was transported to Mather Hospital immediately. (Seymour Prehospital Care Report at 2.) When they entered the bedroom, they found Arlene's body on the floor with her head near the foot of the bed, and medical personnel observed dried blood on her scalp and forehead. (Arlene Prehospital Care Report, Pl.'s Ex. 33, Docket Entry 184-39, at 2.)

         Around the time that emergency medical personnel arrived, Officer Edward Aki (“Officer Aki”), Belle Terre Chief Constable Donald Hines (“Hines”), and Plaintiff's brother-in-law, Ron Rother (“Rother”), arrived at the residence. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 37.) Shortly thereafter, Plaintiff was separated from Rother by officers and escorted to Officer Aki's police car. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 38; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 38.) Officer Aki later testified that he separated Plaintiff and Rother because they were both witnesses and separating them would prevent them from “contaminat[ing] each other's stor[ies].”[10] (Trial Tr. (Aki) 386:11-17.) Plaintiff alleges that when he was sitting in the back of Officer Aki's car, he became sick and began “gagging and spitting up because [he] had blood on [him].” (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 38 (alteration in original).) Plaintiff asked Officer Aki if he could go in the house or use the spigot on the side of the house to clean his hands, but Officer Aki said no. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 38; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 38.) Defendants allege that, a short time later, Officer Aki and Hines observed Plaintiff washing his hands in a puddle in front of Officer Aki's police car. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 39.) Plaintiff alleges that Officer Aki gave him permission to clean his hands in the puddle and provided him with a tissue or a paper towel from his glove compartment. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 39.)

         Hines, who was also a family friend, testified that he had a series of conversations with Plaintiff after Plaintiff washed his hands. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 37, 40.) Hines testified that during those conversations, Plaintiff reiterated his suspicions regarding Steuerman's involvement, said that his mother had discussed the possibility that Steuerman would do something terrible, and said that Steuerman was the last person to leave the card game the previous night. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 40; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 40.) Hines testified that he told Plaintiff that Seymour was still alive, and if he recovered, he may be able to identify the perpetrator. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 40; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 40; Trial Tr. (Hines) 506:22-507:2.) He testified that when he said this to Plaintiff, Plaintiff “picked his head up and looked directly at [him]” and “[h]is eyes widened, he stopped talking and didn't say a word.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 41; Trial Tr. (Hines) 507:15-17.) Plaintiff does not recall speaking with Hines. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 42.)

         John McNamara (“McNamara”), a friend of Seymour's, testified that he also had a series of conversations with Plaintiff that morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 43-45.) McNamara testified that when he walked by the Tankleff residence, Plaintiff approached him and explained what happened when he woke up that morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 43.) McNamara said that he asked Plaintiff why he did not have more blood on him, if he had, in fact, lifted his father from the chair to the floor. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 43.) McNamara testified that Plaintiff looked at him and walked away without responding. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 43.) During the second alleged conversation, McNamara testified that the sequence of events changed, and this time, Plaintiff allegedly said he was naked when he woke up that morning and put on shorts and a sweatshirt before finding his parents. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 44.) McNamara also testified that during the second conversation, Plaintiff did not mention seeing his mother in the bedroom, but said that he checked the garage and then ran out of the house. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 44.) McNamara also described a third conversation with Plaintiff and testified that during that conversation, Plaintiff said that after checking the garage, he did go into the bedroom, saw his mother, realized she was dead and then ran out of the house. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 45.) Plaintiff denies that these conversations took place, and testified during his deposition and at trial that he did not remember having any conversations with McNamara or even seeing him at his home that morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 46; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 43-46.)

         The Mayor of Belle Terre, Vincent Bove (“Bove”), who was at the card game the previous night, also testified that he had a conversation with Plaintiff that morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 47.) He testified that when he arrived at the scene, Plaintiff approached him and told him that “somebody murdered my mother and father” and that he suspected that Steuerman was responsible. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 47.) Additionally, Bove testified that when he asked if Plaintiff saw Steuerman harm his parents, Plaintiff told him that he did not see Steuerman do it, but that Steuerman and his parents had been arguing. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 47.) At his deposition, Plaintiff admitted that he had a conversation with Bove but did not recall the specifics of that conversation.[11](Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 48; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 48.) Finally, Dara Schaeffer (“Schaeffer”), a neighbor and classmate, testified that she drove by Plaintiff's home that morning and asked him what happened. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 49.) She testified that Plaintiff said “last night someone killed my mother and tried to kill my father and molested me.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 49.) Plaintiff denies that he said this and maintains that he said “last night they murdered my mother, they murdered my father, and they must have missed me.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 50.) Although Schaeffer testified that Plaintiff did not express “any emotions” and “just told [her] how it happened, ” in another conversation with Plaintiff's investigator, she stated that Plaintiff “appeared to be in shock.” (Trial Tr. (Schaeffer) 553:8-10, 573:17-19; Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 49; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 49.)

         At approximately 7:20 a.m., Sergeant Robert Doyle (“Sergeant Doyle”) of the Suffolk County Police Department's Homicide Bureau ordered Detectives Robert Anderson (“Detective Anderson”), Anthony Lahgezza (“Detective Lahgezza”), Michael Carmody (“Detective Carmody”), John Pfalzgraf (“Detective Pfalzgraf”), K. James McCready (“Detective McCready”) and Norman Rein (“Detective Rein”) to begin the investigation at the Tankleff home. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 51.) Detective McCready arrived at the scene at 7:39 a.m. and walked through the home for approximately ten minutes. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 52.) Thereafter, he talked to Plaintiff in his police car.[12] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 52.) He testified that Plaintiff appeared “excited” and said that Steuerman was responsible because Steuerman and his father had been fighting. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 52.) Thereafter, Detective McCready and Plaintiff discussed the events of that morning. (See Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 53.) Detective McCready testified that Plaintiff told him he woke up at 5:35 a.m. when his alarm went off, but that he stayed in bed until 6:10 a.m. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53.) Detective McCready further testified that Plaintiff told him that he got out of bed at 6:10 a.m., put on a sweatshirt and shorts, looked into his parents' room, which was dark, and did not see anyone. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53.) Detective McCready said that at that point, Plaintiff told him that he walked to the office, saw his father and called 911 from the phone in the office. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53.) Detective McCready said that Plaintiff told him that after the call, he looked for his mother's car in the garage and eventually looked in the bedroom, saw his mother and ran into the kitchen to call his sister. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53.)

         Plaintiff alleges that, consistent with his trial testimony, he got out of bed at 6:05 a.m. and put on underwear and shorts but was not wearing a sweatshirt. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 53.) Other than this, Plaintiff's account of the events of that morning and Detective McCready's recollection of Plaintiff's initial statements are largely consistent.[13] (Compare Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 53 with Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 53.) During their conversation, Detective McCready observed blood on Plaintiff's right calf and right foot. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 54.) He asked if Plaintiff got blood on him when he helped his father and testified that Plaintiff responded that “[his] hands were covered with blood” and that “[he] washed them in a puddle.”[14] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 54.)

         After his initial conversation with Plaintiff, Detective McCready re-entered the home and made several observations. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 54.) At trial, Detective McCready testified that he noticed that there was no blood on the three telephones in or near the kitchen, no blood on the garage door handle or dead bolt lock, and that the drapes in the bedroom were open.[15] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 54.) Detective McCready also testified at trial that he observed unsmeared blood spatters on the telephone in the office from which Plaintiff said he called 911. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 54.) However, at his deposition, when Detective McCready was asked to examine a photograph of the office phone, he testified that there was something that could have been smeared blood. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 54.)

         At approximately 8:00 a.m., Sergeant Doyle arrived at the scene. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 55.) He walked through the house and concluded that it was likely that there was a struggle in the bedroom. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 55.) Later that morning, he also noticed that in the bathroom closest to Plaintiff's bedroom, the bathtub contained water droplets and there was a wet loofah sponge. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 64.) Sergeant Doyle testified at trial that Plaintiff did not appear “upset” or “emotional” when he met with him shortly after exiting the home, but Plaintiff disputes his characterization. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 55; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 55.) When Sergeant Doyle recounted his conversation with Plaintiff during his testimony at trial, he said that Plaintiff did not mention looking for his mother's car in the garage, but did say that, from the hallway outside the bedroom, he saw his mother's body and knew she was dead. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 56.) Plaintiff disputes that Sergeant Doyle's account is accurate. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 56.) Detective Rein arrived at the scene a short time later. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 59.) He testified that when Plaintiff spoke to him, Plaintiff said that when he got up, he looked in the bedroom but did not see anyone, walked to the office and found his father, dialed 911 from the office, administered aid to his father per the 911 operator's instructions, looked for his mother's car in the garage, went into the bedroom and saw his mother, called his sister from the kitchen, and went back to the office and then back to the kitchen again to answer his sister's return call. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 60-61.)

         B. Plaintiff's Interview

         After Detective Rein's conversation with Plaintiff, he spoke with Detective McCready and Sergeant Doyle regarding alleged discrepancies in Plaintiff's statements and his demeanor. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 62.) Sergeant Doyle directed Detective McCready to ask Plaintiff to come to police headquarters. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 62.) Plaintiff denies that his accounts were inconsistent and alleges that the Detectives become suspicious because they “believed that [his] emotional response was not appropriate.”[16] (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 62.)

         Defendants allege that, around 8:40 a.m., Detective McCready asked Plaintiff to come to Police Headquarters and Plaintiff responded “fine” and got into Detective McCready's vehicle. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 63.) Plaintiff alleges that he repeatedly requested to go to Mather Hospital to see his father, but Detective McCready refused to take him there until after he accompanied him to Police Headquarters. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 22.) Plaintiff also alleges that he “didn't think he had a choice about going with Detective McCready and believed that only by going with Detective McCready to the station would he be able to get to the hospital.”[17] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 22.) During the drive to Headquarters, Detective McCready spoke with Detective Pfalzgraf, who was at Mather Hospital, and learned that Seymour had suffered serious head injuries and was being transferred to Stony Brook Hospital. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 65.)

         Detective McCready and Plaintiff arrived at Police Headquarters at approximately 9:20 a.m., and Detective McCready gave Plaintiff a cup of coffee while he waited. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 67.) Plaintiff alleges that the coffee was the only thing he had to eat since he woke up that morning. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 67.) At approximately 9:40 a.m., Detectives Rein and McCready (the “Detectives”) entered the interview room and began making small talk with Plaintiff, and Plaintiff removed three tissues from his pockets and put them on a desk. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 68.) The nature of the interview and the methods used by the Detectives are vigorously disputed. For example, the parties dispute whether Plaintiff volunteered information or whether he supplied information in response to questioning by the Detectives. (See, e.g., Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 69-71; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 69-71.) The order in which the topics were discussed is also unclear.[18]

         Plaintiff alleges that the questions “never seemed to stop” and that he was “questioned almost continuously until he broke.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 24.) Additionally, Plaintiff alleges that he maintained his innocence throughout the Detectives' questioning and repeated his account of the events of that morning between six and twelve times, but they “refused to accept his truthful account.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 25.) Plaintiff further alleges that he asked to speak to Myron Fox, the family's attorney (“Fox”), approximately six times during the interview, and Detective McCready's response was “[i]f you want to speak with your Uncle Mike, you're a criminal, we're going to lock you up.”[19] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶¶ 27-28.) Plaintiff also claims that Detective McCready prevented him from speaking with Fox that morning at the crime scene, although Detective McCready denied during his deposition that he was attempting to prevent Plaintiff from “lawyering up.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 28.) Detective McCready further denied that Plaintiff ever asked to speak with Fox. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 28.)

         The parties appear to be in agreement regarding the topics discussed during the interview. They discussed Seymour's business dealings, the horses Seymour owned with Steuerman, the fact that Steuerman and his parents were partners in a bagel store, and that there was a dispute regarding Seymour buying into one of Steuerman's bagel stores. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 69-71; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 69-71.) Plaintiff also mentioned that Seymour had loaned Steuerman $400, 000, and that the two men had a dispute over certain equipment. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 221.) Plaintiff talked about his knowledge of Seymour's businesses and explained that Seymour was “grooming” him for a career in business. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 83.) Plaintiff and the Detectives discussed his recent surgery and the fact that he had to wear glasses during his recovery, girls, his car, and that he loved to cook. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 74-76.) Plaintiff said that he was adopted and talked about his family, including his parents' relationship, indicated that he had a good relationship with his mother and his father, and said that the family had a maid. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 77-81.) He mentioned that he had an aversion to blood. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 80.) Plaintiff further explained that his parents' will specified that he would not receive anything until he has 25 and that under the will, he would get more than his sister. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 84.) Plaintiff told the Detectives that the will provided that he would manage Seymour's business interests, including the deals Seymour had with Steuerman, and that he would inherit the family home. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 222.)

         Plaintiff and the Detectives discussed what occurred the night before the attacks. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 72.) Plaintiff said that he took a shower before bed, and when he went into the master bedroom to say good night to his mother, she was sleeping on the side of the bed closest to a set of sliding glass doors. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 72-73.) He said he could not recall if the sliding glass doors were usually locked. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 78.) Plaintiff and the Detectives discussed the poker game, and Plaintiff told the Detectives the names of the players at the game that night. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 81.) He also mentioned that Seymour and Steuerman “pretended to be good buddies” but “did not like each other anymore.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 82.)

         Plaintiff alleges that the Detectives told him that they did not believe his account of rendering aid to his father, and called Plaintiff's version of events “absurd” and “ridiculous.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 26.) The Detectives asked Plaintiff to demonstrate how he helped Seymour after calling 911, and Plaintiff demonstrated on Detective Rein while he sat in a chair.[20] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 85, 92, 225.) Defendants point out that there was no blood on Plaintiff's shorts in the photograph taken of Plaintiff at headquarters, despite the fact that he made contact with Detective Rein during the demonstration. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 93, 96.) Additionally, during the demonstration, Detective McCready noticed blood on Plaintiff's shoulder underneath his sweatshirt.[21](Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 91.)

         At some point during the questioning, Plaintiff drew sketches of: (1) the cars of the card players in the driveway; (2) the general layout of the Tankleff home; and (3) his parents' bedroom. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 88-90.) The sketch of his parents' bedroom showed the location of Arlene's body and indicated that he was standing near the alarm wall when he saw her. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 88, 223.) Plaintiff testified during his deposition that because he was sleeping, he did not hear any screams or cries for help during the attacks. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 58; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 58.)

         The Detectives testified that they became accusatory around 11:15 a.m.[22] and confronted Plaintiff with alleged inconsistencies between his statements and their observations at the scene.[23] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 98, 100; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 98, 100.) During the questioning, both Detectives raised their voices, and Detective McCready poked his fingers into Plaintiff's chest. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 101, 132.) Plaintiff alleges that Detective McCready lied to him and told him that they found his hair in Arlene's hand. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 30.) However, Detective McCready later denied making this statement. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 30.) Plaintiff alleges that Detective McCready also told him that they did not believe that he did not shower that morning because a humidity test indicated that he had showered. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 32.) As Detective McCready admitted at his deposition, there was no humidity test. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 32.) Plaintiff alleges that he “believed what Detective McCready was telling him . . . because [Plaintiff] was brought up to always believe in trusting cops.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 33.) Detective McCready testified at his deposition that he did not recall specifically making the statement about the humidity test, but said that he may have. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 34.)

         At some point, Detective McCready left the interview room and pretended to take a phone call. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 102; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 36.) While Detective Rein was alone with Plaintiff, he pulled his chair “very close” to Plaintiff, “put his hands on his knees” and told him “[he] [couldn't] accept that [Plaintiff] didn't have blood on [his] clothes” as a result of helping his father. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 132; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 132; Trial Tr. (Rein) 3245:6-3247:13.) When Detective McCready came back, he told Plaintiff that Seymour was conscious and identified him as the perpetrator.[24] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 102; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 36.) In fact, Seymour never regained consciousness. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 195; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 37.) Plaintiff alleges that Detective McCready pointed his finger at him and said “they shot your father full of Adrenalin” and “[y]ou beat and stabbed him, Marty.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff alleges that Detective McCready also said “[y]ou did it Marty” and “your father said just tell us what we want to hear and help us.”[25] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff responded that Seymour must have identified him because he saw him that morning when Plaintiff was administering first aid. Plaintiff volunteered to a take a polygraph exam. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 102.) Plaintiff alleges that the Detectives “repeatedly told [him] that his father would not lie about this, ” and Plaintiff recalls being in shock and disbelief that his father would accuse him. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 39.) At his deposition, Detective McCready admitted to lying to Plaintiff about his father and acknowledged that the goal was to get Plaintiff to confess.[26] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 37.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he began to believe he might have done it because his father never lied to him. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 107; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 107.) Detective McCready testified that Plaintiff said that “whoever did this needs psychiatric help, ” “[m]aybe it wasn't him but another Marty Tankleff that killed them, ” and “could I have blacked out and done it?”[27] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 103.) Plaintiff alleges that the Detectives encouraged him by saying “there's a Marty inside of you that knows what happened” and that he should make “that Marty tell us what happened.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 43.) Then, Detective McCready asked Plaintiff “[d]id you kill your mother and did you hurt your father?” and Plaintiff said “Yeah I did it.”[28] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 108.) Plaintiff alleges that he “broke down and told the [D]etectives what they wanted to hear . . . without considering what the consequences of this false confession would be because, in his shock and trauma, he ‘thought it was all a nightmare and he was going to wake up and it would be all over.'” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 43.)

         Plaintiff and the Detectives discussed how the crime occurred. The parties appear to agree that the Detectives made numerous suggestions to Plaintiff regarding the commission of the crime and that Plaintiff ultimately agreed with those suggestions.[29] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 113, 118; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 113, 118.) However, there is some dispute whether Plaintiff initially denied the Detectives' suggestions before acquiescing. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 114-17; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 114-17.) Plaintiff testified at his deposition that during the interview, he repeatedly told the Detectives that he was innocent. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 124-125; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 124-25.) He also alleges that he “repeatedly told [the] [D]etectives that he could not provide details of his parents' murders by stating, for example, ‘I don't know. I didn't do this.'” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 45.) Plaintiff explained that “the detectives would ask a question, and I would say, I don't know what you are talking about; I didn't do anything. And they would once again re-ask the question or make a statement to me, and I would say, well, you know, I don't remember doing anything. I didn't do anything. If you're saying I did something, then I would just acquiesce to what they were saying.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 125.) Plaintiff alleges that the details in the alleged confession “conveniently matched the observations” the Detectives made at the scene and “the theory they had formulated . . . during and after the walk-throughs, ” including the sequence of the attacks and the weapons.[30] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 54.)

         Plaintiff agreed with the Detectives' suggestion that he was naked during the attacks and began by hitting his mother with a dumbbell. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 112, 120.) The Detectives suggested and Plaintiff agreed that after he hit her, he grabbed a knife from the kitchen that was lying on the counter next to watermelon rinds and cut her throat with it. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 112.) The Detectives suggested and Plaintiff agreed that then his mother was on her back, and he continued to stab her, but could not remember how many times. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 112.) He also agreed that he hit her four to five times on the head. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 112.) Next, he agreed that “she was moving a little bit when he ran out of the bedroom to kill his father.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 119.) Plaintiff acquiesced and agreed that he entered the office with a dumbbell and the knife behind his back, saw his father in his chair and hit him from behind with the dumbbell first. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 120-21.) He agreed that, after his father asked him what he was doing, he “knocked him silly” and cut his neck. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 121-22.) The Detectives suggested and Plaintiff agreed that he was not sure how many times he hit or stabbed his father and that he was shocked by the amount of blood. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 122.) He further agreed that, afterward, he cleaned the dumbbell and the knife in the shower, returned the dumbbell to his bedroom, and laid in bed before getting up at 6:10 a.m. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 123.)

         Plaintiff alleges that he never received Miranda warnings, but admits that he signed a waiver of rights card (the “Waiver Card”) after the alleged confession. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 126; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 126; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 29.) The Detectives testified at their depositions that Plaintiff was not advised of his rights or told he was a suspect when he was first brought to the station. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 29.) However, they claimed that Detective McCready provided Plaintiff with the “Waiver Card” and advised him of his rights just minutes before he said that he had done it. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 29.)

         Plaintiff signed a consent form to allow them to take samples of his fingernail scrapings and any dried blood on his body, and investigators took several photographs of Plaintiff. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 128-29.) Defendants note that in the photographs, there is no blood on Plaintiff's shorts or sweatshirt, and Plaintiff acknowledged this fact at trial. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 224.) At approximately 1:22 p.m., Fox called and directed the Detectives to stop their questioning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 130.) Plaintiff alleges that beginning with his first conversation with Detective McCready around 7:55 a.m., he “was effectively confined for five-and-a-half hours.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 21.) Plaintiff testified on cross-examination during the trial that, sometime after the alleged confession, he was in a room with Detective Rein, Detective McCready, and Sergeant Doyle, and Detective McCready choked him. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 232.) This was the first time Plaintiff made such an allegation. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 233.)

         Plaintiff remained in the interview room while his arrest was processed, and later that day, he asked to speak with his sister, Shari Rother (“Shari”).[31] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 135.) During the call with Shari, Plaintiff told her he was sorry, and when Shari asked if Plaintiff told the police that he was responsible, Plaintiff responded “yes, they made me.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 136; Tankleff 50-h Examination, Defs.' Ex. KK, 63:23-24.) Additionally, at trial, Plaintiff admitted that during that conversation, he also said that he needed psychiatric help and told Shari he needed to see her. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 231.)

         Detective McCready subsequently drafted a report summarizing Plaintiff's alleged confession, which Plaintiff alleges is more detailed than the Detectives' handwritten notes from the interview itself. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 66.) Plaintiff alleges that the purported confession only contained the information known to Detectives at the time they questioned Plaintiff and did not include details that would come to light later in the investigation, including that Arlene had wounds on her back indicating she may have been attacked from behind and that the perpetrator(s) wore gloves. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 69-70.)

         C. The Evidence

         Several detectives remained at the home after Detectives McCready and Rein transported Plaintiff to Police Headquarters. Detective James Barnes (“Detective Barnes”) examined all of the doors and windows and found no sign of forced entry, although Plaintiff alleges that the front door was open when he woke up that morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 137; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 137.) Detective Chuck Kosciuk (“Detective Kosciuk”) also made several observations. In Plaintiff's bathroom, Detective Kosciuk testified that he observed water in the bathtub, including near the drain, along one side of the tub, and under a wet loofah sponge. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 138.) In Plaintiff's bedroom, Detective Kosciuk testified that he saw blood on the door knob, the light switch, and the wall next to the light switch.[32] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 138.) He testified that he also observed a “slightly damp” towel and a set of dumbbells in Plaintiff's room. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 138.) Plaintiff notes that a red substance was observed on the dumbbells, and alleges that this fact, in combination with the water in the bathtub led detectives to surmise that the dumbbells were used in the murders and that Plaintiff washed them off in the shower. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 138.) Detective Kosciuk also saw a knife on the kitchen counter next to watermelon rinds, which according to one witness, appeared to be in a different position than it was during the poker game. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 139.) Plaintiff alleges that this observation led detectives to believe that the knife, referred to as the “Watermelon Knife, ” was used by the perpetrator. (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 139.)

         1. Arlene and Seymour's Injuries

         Dr. Vernard Adams, Deputy Medical Examiner for Suffolk County (“Dr. Adams”), arrived at the home at around 4:00 p.m. and examined Arlene's injuries. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 140.) Based on his preliminary examination of her body and the blood stains, he concluded that she sustained head injuries, had moved, and then the perpetrator inflicted stab wounds.[33] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 140.) Dr. Adams performed Arlene's autopsy and testified at trial that Arlene sustained five depressed skull fractures, cuts to her hands and forearms, four slash wounds to her back and stab wounds to her neck caused by a sharp blade.[34] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 142; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 96.) He further testified that the skull fractures were consistent with having been caused by the dumbbell from Plaintiff's room.[35] (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 142.)

         A surgeon at Stony Brook Hospital who operated on Seymour testified at trial that Seymour suffered “several depressed [skull] fractures, ” including “fracture[s] in which pieces of the bone [were] . . . driven inward” which “appeared to [have been] produced by a small pointed blunt object of which a hammer would be a good example.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 141.) The surgeon testified that Seymour's neck wound was “unusual and extensive, ” and believed that “it would have taken a great deal of energy and determination to produce a wound [that] deep and extensive.”[36] (Trial Tr. (Tyson) 4349:2-22.) On October 6, 1988, Seymour succumbed to his injuries. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 195.) Dr. Adams' autopsy revealed that the perpetrator inflicted several blows to Seymour's head and that the cause of death was “head trauma and incised wounds of the neck.” (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 195.)

         2. Investigation of the Poker Players and Steuerman

         As discussed, Detective Robert Anderson (“Detective Anderson”) and Detective Anthony Laghezza (“Detective Laghezza”) were assigned to interview the card players, including those that attended the poker game at the Tankleff home on September 6th. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 167.) Bove, the Mayor of Belle Terre, told Detectives Anderson and Laghezza that nothing unusual occurred at the game and that he was not aware of a conflict between Steuerman and Seymour, although he admitted that he had no personal knowledge of their business dealings. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 168.) Other players at the game, including Robert Montefusco (“Montefusco”), Albert Raskin (“Raskin”), Peter Capobianco (“Capobianco”), and Joseph Cecere (“Cecere”), also reported that they did not recall tension between Steuerman and Seymour. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 169-172.) Plaintiff alleges that two of the players, Montefusco and Cecere, told detectives that they believed that Steuerman was the last one to leave the game.[37] (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶¶ 169, 172.) Detectives Anderson and Laghezza interviewed Steuerman on September 7th. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173; Anderson Supp. Rep., Defs.' Ex. V.) At the time of the interview, Steuerman knew that Plaintiff had accused him of being responsible for the attacks.[38](Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173.) Steuerman told them that he had been a player in the poker game for about two years and did not recall anything out of the ordinary during the game on September 6th. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173.) He described his business dealings with Seymour. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173.) Additionally, Steuerman said that he left the card game and arrived at his daughter's house, where he was living at the time, at approximately 3:15 a.m.[39] and found out about the attacks the next morning. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173.) After speaking with Steuerman, Detectives Anderson and Laghezza concluded that Steuerman should not be considered a suspect. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 173.)

         Detectives Rein and McCready conducted a second interview of Steuerman on September 10th. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 174.) Steuerman discussed the card game and his relationship with the Tankleff family. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 174.) At trial, Steuerman's daughter testified that he arrived at her house around 3:16 a.m. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 175.) His daughter testified that she remembered the time because she had to get up and let her father in because he had forgotten his keys. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 175.) She also said that the drive from Belle Terre to her home takes about fifteen minutes. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 175.)

         On September 14, 1988, Steuerman withdrew $15, 000 from an account he shared with Seymour, faked his own death, and traveled under a fictitious name to Los Angeles, California. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 177; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 177.) During three days of testimony at Plaintiff's trial, Steuerman explained that he fled to California due to various personal and financial problems and the accusations against him in connection with the attacks on the Tankleffs. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 178.) The homicide department ultimately investigated Steuerman's disappearance, presumably given the connection to the ongoing investigation. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 139; Missing Person Report, Pl.'s Ex. 24, Docket Entry 184-30.) The Missing Person Report refers to an anonymous call authorities received indicating that Steuerman “finance[d] his son . . . in major cocaine dealings.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 142; Missing Person Report at 5.) On September 26th, Detective McCready, Sergeant Doyle, and Assistant District Attorney Edward Jablonski (“ADA Jablonski”) traveled to California, and Steuerman returned to Suffolk County with them on September 30th. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶¶ 152, 155; Missing Person Report at 26-28.) Plaintiff alleges that the purpose of the trip was not to further investigate Steuerman, but to convince him to return to Suffolk County. (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶ 154.)

         During the investigation and trial, authorities learned more about Steuerman and Seymour's business relationship.[40]Steuerman testified at trial that his relationship with Seymour deteriorated beginning in July and August 1988. (Trial Tr. (Steuerman) 1080:17-23.) Although Steuerman maintained that his financial obligations to Seymour continued after Seymour's death, he also testified that he needed Seymour's approval to pursue new ventures and would have had to split the profits with Seymour while Seymour was alive. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶ 176; Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 176; Trial Tr. (Steuerman) 1080:24-1081:25.)

         Plaintiff alleges that the fact that Steuerman was ruled out as a suspect based on “two brief interviews in public places” and alibi testimony from his daughter illustrates that the investigation of Steuerman was “wholly inadequate.” (Pl.'s 56.1 Resp. ¶ 175; Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶¶ 148-49.) Plaintiff further alleges that Defendants failed to adequately investigate Steuerman's finances or his connection to his son's alleged drug dealing.[41] (Pl.'s 56.1 Counterstmt. ¶¶ 148-149.) Defendants point out that Steuerman was questioned extensively during his trial testimony about his alleged involvement in the crime, and Detective McCready was subject to lengthy cross-examination regarding the adequacy of the investigation into Steuerman. (Defs.' 56.1 Stmt. ¶¶ 179-80.)

         3. Blood ...


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