Villager photo by Clayton Patterson
Ludacrisly heavy presence
On Monday night Sept. 25, there was a very heavy police presence around the former Bank club at the corner of Essex and E. Houston Sts. for a party including Ludacris and another big-game rapper. All the parking spots along Essex St. between Houston and Stanton Sts. were blocked off by police before the event. Police were also in front of Katz’s on Ludlow St. “They’ve never done this before,” marveled documentarian Clayton Patterson, whose Outlaw Gallery is on Essex St. “I mean when Hillary Clinton visited P.S. 20, they didn’t even do this. A lot of big-name people used to visit P.S. 20 when Dr. G was the principal.”
The trial of Rudy Fleming for the Jan. 28, 2005, murder of Nicole duFresne during an armed street robbery on Clinton and Rivington Sts., entered its third day Tues. Oct. 3 with prosecution testimony continuing after the victim’s boyfriend and her best friend had told the jury about hearing the shot that killed her, and her best friend’s boyfriend had testified that he saw the actual shooting occur.
Prosecution witnesses on Tuesday included the Lower East Side bouncer who was robbed, allegedly by the defendant and three accomplices, a few hours before the murder.
The prosecuting attorney, Robert Hettleman, was expected to finish presenting witnesses on Wednesday. Fleming’s lawyer is Anthony Ricco.
DuFresne, 28, had just finished her shift as bartender at the opening of a new venue, Rockwood Music Club, on Allen St., when the incident occurred. With her at the time were Jeffrey Sparks, her boyfriend; Mary Jane Gibson, her friend; and Scott Nath, Gibson’s friend, all of whom were held at gunpoint.
Fleming is charged with killing duFresne with a single gunshot to the chest after she confronted him during the stickup. Fleming was not in the courtroom during the trial this week but was held in a nearby room. He was barred from the courtroom by the judge because he disrupted the chamber during jury selection last week. Fleming’s accomplices, two teenage girls and a young man, are to be tried separately later.
Leather man identified
The body of a leather-clad man found on Wednesday morning Sept. 27 strapped by a spiked dog collar around his neck to an iron fence on Hudson St. at J.J. Walker Park, was identified as Richard Lewis, 36, a homeless former psychiatric patient.
“We still have further study to determine the cause and manner of death,” said Ellen Borakove, spokesperson for the Medical Examiner’s Office on Oct. 3.
Witnesses said they had seen a man the night before dressed in black leather, cowboy boots and wearing a leather mask drinking in a West Village bar claiming he was a war veteran and that the mask was hiding facial scars and a glass eye. Reports in daily newspapers said Lewis had recently been discharged from St. Vincent’s Hospital.
Police at the scene on Sept. 27 surmised the victim committed suicide or died by accident during a sex act. Reported to police at 7 a.m., the body was dismissed by early morning strollers as being a premature Halloween effigy. One witness said the body looked like the victim might have slumped down facing the fence and accidentally strangled himself.