2007_03_ramen2.jpgAfter the tragic murder of Natasha Ramen last week, questions were raised about the conduct of the Brooklyn DA's office. Last Friday, Ramen's throat was slashed, allegedly by Hemant Megnath in an attempt to prevent her from testifying that he had raped her. Megnath had previously harassed and threatened Ramen and her family to the point that they told the police in Queens.

Yesterday, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes admitted that his office failed to alert the judge, saying, "Why this information was not relayed to Judge [John] Walsh is of concern, but this assistant is superbly qualified, experienced and a dedicated lawyer in my office. It was an honest mistake." He described the assistant district attorney, Caryn Teitelman, as being “superbly qualified, experienced and dedicated.” From the Times:

In October, relatives of Ms. Ramen told the police that Mr. Megnath had threatened to kill her and her husband. He was arrested on charges of aggravated harassment, under the jurisdiction of Queens prosecutors, but the Ramen family did not press charges.

Ms. Teitelman, who was standing in for another assistant district attorney on the rape case in Brooklyn, was told of the harassment arrest in Queens, Mr. Hynes said in his statement. Prosecutors routinely use such information to argue for an increase in bail or other conditions to restrain the defendant. For reasons Mr. Hynes did not explain, Ms. Teitelman did not tell Judge Walsh about the harassment arrest.

Hynes also said, "To attempt to blame her [Teitelman] is almost as ludicrous as trying to lay the blame on Ms. Ramen's family, who refused to cooperate in the Queens prosecution." Which naturally made Ramen's family upset. Her husband, Leonard Ramen, said that his parents didn't want to press charges because Megnath threatened to kill him (friends say they were worried because they are illegal immigrants): "Everybody's pointing fingers at each other, [but] no one's trying to correct it...It shouldn't be, 'Oh, do you want to press charges?' It should be, 'You're going in jail.'" Megnath's lawyer, though, tells the Times, "I think the judge and the people in Brooklyn acted appropriately.”

And, for a period, Leonard Ramen was also ordered to stay from his wife, after he assaulted her last fall, though it seems they later reconciled.