This Week’s Most Interesting Courtrooms: A Claw Hammer Beating and a Hit-and-Run Cold Case


With tickets at the Met running into the $200-$300 range, and BAM shows and classes more affordable but still well beyond a casual expense, why not step out for some free theater? And by “free theater” we mean public trials of New York City’s most illustrious criminals. Runnin’ Scared rounded up some cases this week that are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Hate crimes, theft of a Canadian chess champion’s identity, the bright lights — this city has got it all. Runnin’ Scared will publish a new list each week, so you can get your entertainment and a civic education at the same time for the low, low price of free.

Tuesday, October 29

Defendant: Douglas Epp
Crime: The wisdom goes that there is a time and a place for everything. Douglas Epp decided that the time to try to murder a tourist from Spain was the middle of the day and the place was in City Hall Park. Epp used a claw hammer to fracture the spine of Hugo Alejandre, who Epp claimed had called him “gay” and “a Nazi”. CBS reported that Epp, a drifter from Canada, initially gave his name as John Yoos, who is actually a Canadian chess champion Epp once knew. This is a possible sentencing hearing for Epp; he pleaded guilty to attempted murder on October 8.
Location: 100 Centre Street, Room 1307

See also: There is a Long and Storied Tradition of Selling Drugs Out of Ice Cream Trucks in New York

Wednesday, October 30

Defendant: Shaun Martin
Crime: Remember that horrific East Village car crash that injured three bodega workers and a cyclist, leaving one of the bodega workers in a coma for two weeks? Yeah, it’s that guy. Martin, who was drag racing down Second Avenue in the early morning hours of June 22 under the influence of alcohol and lots and lots of drugs, jumped the curb and crashed into a bodega at the corner of Second Avenue and East 4th Street. When police pulled Martin out of the wreck, he reportedly asked, “Am I dead?” He was later found to be hiding PCP in his sock. This particular court appearance will address the charge of Aggravated Vehicular Assault.
Location: 100 Centre Street, Room 1307

Hate crimes and cold cases fill out the back half of the week.

Thursday, October 31

Defendant: Jose Aguilar
Crime: Aguilar is accused of running over his wife, Maria Guayllasca, with his Nissan on West 114th Street in July 1996. After she died of her injuries, Aguilar fled to his native Ecuador and the case went cold. Aguilar was arrested in Minneapolis in October 2012 and extradited to New York, where he pleaded not guilty to the crime.
Location: 100 Centre Street, Room 1116

See also: Robert Whitfield, Rikers Guard on His Way to Prison, Shopped Around for Inmate Willing to Bribe Him

Friday, November 1

Defendant: Luis Garcia
Crime: Garcia and six others are charged with hate-related gang assault. Eleven total suspects were involved in an October 2010 incident in which Garcia’s gang, the Latin King Goonies, brutally beat and sodomized a 17-year-old recruit with a plunger in an abandoned building in the Bronx. They then beat another teenager and a 30-year-old man they suspected had a sexual relationship with the two teens. Eventually three of the accused had charges against them dropped.
Location: 851 Grand Concourse No. 111, Bronx Supreme Court, the Bronx.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 29, 2013


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