WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSMiami/AP) — Jury deliberations are underway in the case against Narcy Novack and her brother Cristobal Veliz in the 2009 killings of her millionaire husband and mother-in-law in 2009.
After eight weeks of testimony, jurors heard final instructions Monday from the judge and began deliberations.
Novack, of Fort Lauderdale, is charged in federal court with directing the fatal beatings of Ben Novack Jr. at a suburban New York hotel and Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home three months earlier, in a play for their family fortune.
Ben Novack’s father built the famed Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.
On Friday, a prosecutor ridiculed as fantasy defense claims that Narcy Novack’s daughter was the instigator of the killings.
Judge Kenneth Karas then began instructing the jury and said he would finish Monday.
During closing arguments, Novack’s defense attorney Howard Tanner told jurors that the case has “many reasonable doubts, and you need just one” to acquit her. He warned them that “the consequences of a mistake are so grave.”
Tanner said inexperienced investigators latched onto Novack as a suspect and failed to investigate others, leading to a “flimsy and weak” case.
As a result, he said, prosecutors had to make plea bargains with the men who have admitted carrying out the killings. They were key prosecution witnesses, fingering Novack and Veliz as choreographing the attacks.
“These are monsters, and these are the people the government would have you rely on,” Tanner said. “You can’t rely on their testimony, and if you can’t you can’t find guilt.”
Tanner also continued the strategy of casting suspicion on Novack’s daughter, May Abad, who has not been charged. The defense has noted that Abad’s sons will inherit the multimillion-dollar family estate if Narcy Novack is convicted.
Tanner suggested Thursday that it was Abad who made a July 12, 2009, phone call that set in motion the attack on Ben Novack. The prosecution has attributed that call to Narcy Novack, but Tanner said Abad could have been using her mother’s phone.
“I don’t have to prove May Abad is guilty of anything,” he said. “I don’t have to solve the crime. They have to prove Narcy Novack is guilty.”
Abad has denied involvement and says the theory is “a joke.”
The prosecution said Narcy Novack paid Veliz to hire the killers. They allege she feared she would lose out on the family millions because her husband was having an affair and she had signed a prenuptial agreement.
The killers testified that Narcy Novack let them into the couple’s hotel room, led them to her sleeping husband and gave them a pillow to muffle his screams as they beat him with dumbbells. One of them has also admitted killing Bernice Novack by bashing her with a plumber’s wrench. He said he got his instructions from Veliz and Narcy Novack.
If convicted, the siblings could be sentenced to mandatory life in prison.
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