National News

Defense attorney requests hearing on missing Epstein footage

FILE - This March 28, 2017, file photo, provided by the New York State Sex Offender Registry, shows Jeffrey Epstein. Federal prosecutors said Thursday Jan. 9, 2020, that jailhouse video no longer exists of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's jail cell on a day he survived an apparent suicide attempt. (New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, File)
The Associated Press
By JIM MUSTIAN
Posted: Jan. 14, 2020 7:00 am Updated: Jan. 14, 2020 11:21 am

NEW YORK (AP) — A defense attorney wants a federal judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the federal government intentionally deleted video of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's cell from the day he survived an apparent suicide attempt inside a New York jail.

The attorney for Epstein's former cellmate filed a motion late Monday saying the missing footage would show Nicholas Tartaglione tried to help Epstein on July 23 when guards found the wealthy financier with bruises on his neck. Epstein later hanged himself Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The request came days after federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas that video from the hallway outside the cell Epstein shared with Tartaglione “ no longer exists.”

Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center believed they had preserved the footage, prosecutors said, but they actually saved a video from a different part of the jail. The FBI determined the footage also does not exist on the jail’s backup video system “as a result of technical errors,” they wrote in a court filing.

Defense attorney Bruce Barket asked Karas to hold a hearing to determine how the video was destroyed and “whether there was any bad faith on the part of the Government in connection with the video’s destruction.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan declined to comment on the motion.

Barket told The Associated Press last week the government's “various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to (the jailhouse) video are deeply troubling.”

He argued Monday the video could convince a federal jury that Tartaglione does not deserve the death penalty in his case because he “demonstrated concern for the life of his cellmate, took steps to aid a fellow inmate in distress and summoned staff for assistance.”

Tartaglione, a former police officer, is charged in what prosecutors have described as the “gangland-style” killings of four men who disappeared during a cocaine-related dispute.