Two men who were jointly convicted in the murder of a 22-year-old Queens woman will soon know whether they will be released from prison while they appeal their sentences.
On Friday, a judge will render a decision regarding whether two men, Yasin C. Orr and Jonathan Theodore, two Jamaican nationals who were originally convicted together in the March 1, 2014, death of Amy Bertham, a college student, should receive parole in connection with their sentences.
Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick heard arguments by prosecutors and defense attorneys for nearly an hour, answering questions that ranged from how much time was the necessary to separate the two men so that the parole board would not have to deliberate on how to sentence them, and how well they had cooperated with authorities since their arrests.
“There is a long road ahead,” Michael Sussman, Orr’s attorney, told the judge, while Peter J. Gorman, Theodore’s attorney, described his client as a “willing participant” who had provided authorities with information on Orr’s activities while he was in Jamaica, Queens.
Orr is serving a term of life without parole and Theodore is serving 25 years to life in prison. Their lawyer sought to persuade the judge that their sentences should not be tied together. Ciparick did not indicate when she would rule.
Orr and Theodore were arrested on charges that they lured Ms. Bertham to an abandoned building on Starr Avenue in Jamaica, Queens, where she was tortured, sexually assaulted and killed by a group of men, later identified as Eduardo Garcia, Marvin Burnett, Dwayne Jones and Edwin Seals.
Garcia and Burnett were convicted of murder and received consecutive 25-years-to-life sentences; Seals was found guilty of murder but not found guilty of rape or sexual assault. Another man was charged in Ms. Bertham’s death but was found not guilty.
“The law creates separate sets of rules,” Gorman argued, pointing out that the prosecution asked the judge to consider the men’s working conditions when she decided how much time they should spend in prison.
Prosecutors argued that Orr and Theodore, along with Garcia and Burnett, were all involved in the incident.
“It was a murder, the murder of Amy Bertham,” Sussman told the judge, arguing that Orr and Theodore, because they had suffered their share of pain from the incident, should also be considered as witnesses.
“My clients didn’t do anything,” Gorman, the Theodore’s attorney, added. “They did what anyone would do.”