Federal Judge Grants Motions Allowing New Rochelle Taxi Murder Defendant to Act as a “Jailhouse Lawyer”

Percell Ross gets a laptop not a golden ticket.

Federal Judge Grants Motions Allowing New Rochelle Taxi Murder Defendant to Act as a “Jailhouse Lawyer”

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BROOKLYN, NY (May 26, 2022) — Percell Lamont Ross, 52, of Covington, Virginia was back in Federal court Thursday, this time in front of Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom for a status conference.

Judge Bloom is overseeing the pre-trial phase of the proceedings against Ross. The case has been assigned to Judge Brian M. Cogan. Ross is represented by Michelle A. Gelernt and Mia Eisner-Grynberg of Federal Defenders of New York. The prosecutor assigned to the case is Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Dennehy.

Ross was given an in-person return date of June 28 by Judge Bloom, but Ross may be back in court sooner, depending on whether a decision by Judge Cogan on a motion to suppress by Ross is handed down sooner.

Ross is currently in federal custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn.

Accompanied by two U.S. Marshals, Percell Ross, stocky at 5’ 9” and 200 pounds, appeared in court dressed in a beige jumpsuit, wearing eyeglasses with thick black plastic frames.

Ross, through his attorneys, filed three motions with Judge Bloom on Thursday: a motion seeking approval for his attorneys to provide him a pair of reading glasses, a motion seeking approval for access to a laptop to access case-related material, and a motion for an order for MDC-Brooklyn to provide Ross access to the prison law library.

In presenting the motions to Judge Bloom, Gelernt said Ross was actively involved in his pre-trial defense research. Bloom asked why his lawyers could not give Ross hard copies of what they want him to read in his cell. Gelernt said Ross wanted to do his own research.

AUSA Dennehy did not object to any of the three motions.

Bloom granted all three motions but admonished Ross, waiving her hand above her head, saying that her order for access to the prison law library was “not a ‘golden ticket’ to get you out of your cell”.

She noted that MDC-Brooklyn may have rules such as how many prisoners can access the law library at a given time or the hours of operation of the law library or COVID-related restrictions or other issues.

“The problems at the MDC are deeper than I can solve,” she added.

Ross nodded, indicating he understood.

Ross, through his attorneys, filed a motion to suppress — a request that a judge issue an order that certain evidence be excluded from consideration by the judge or jury at trial — on April 27, 2022, with Judge Cogan:

  1. Suppressing physical evidence, observations made by law enforcement, and any other evidence to be offered at trial, which is the unattenuated fruit the unlawful seizure of Mr. Ross, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(3)(C) or, in the alternative, directing that a hearing be held outside of the presence of the jury before trial as to the admissibility of such evidence; and
  2. Precluding: 1) any non-noticed statements from Mr. Ross; 2) any non-noticed identifications by other witnesses; and 3) any documents or materials obtained through the use of search warrants the government has yet to disclose discovery (including, but not limited to, cell site data, pen trap and trace devices, license plate reader data, social media data, among other discovery.); and
  3. Granting such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

The government filed its response on May 13, arguing that Ross abandoned the weapon he dropped at the scene and that law enforcement officers were operating based on active warrants and the location of a vehicle registered to Ross.

Ross filed a reply on May 23, 2022, arguing he did not abandon the weapon he dropped at the scene, but rather dropped the weapon in response to an unlawful stop and seizure of him after law enforcement officers fired at him first. He is requesting that the Court hold an evidentiary hearing on his motion to suppress evidence. The government has consented to the evidentiary hearing.

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The government recently provided Ross and his attorneys with a more than two-hour-long videotaped interrogation of Ross. His attorneys asked Judge Cogan for leave to file a supplemental briefing by June 10, 2022 which will ask the court to suppress his post-arrest statements on the bases that they were involuntarily made, and that law enforcement violated Ross’s right to silence and right to counsel.

The government has agreed to produce recordings of 911 and police dispatch traffic and SPRINT (Special Police Radio Inquiry Network) Computer-Aided Dispatch System records, as well as a pair of sneakers worn by Ross on the day he was taken into custody and any available ballistics report.

A decision on the motion by Judge Cogan is pending but now delayed by the supplemental briefing and response and as yet unscheduled evidentiary hearing.

If the motion is decided before June 28, Ross would be back in court before that date.

Ross was taken into custody after a wild shootout with FBI Agents and New Rochelle Police. In an FBI statement released at the time, the government contends that on the morning of October 17, 2021, in the vicinity of 330 Hudson Walk in Brooklyn, NY, Ross opened fire on members of a joint local and FBI Safe Streets Task Force attempting to apprehend Ross on an active warrant, dated October 16, 2021, for aggravated assault, First Degree with a weapon, which had been issued out of New Haven, CT.

Ross also had an outstanding warrant for full extradition out of Covington, VA dated October 16, 2021, for Sex Trafficking of a Minor with Intent to Receive Money.

Ross was also an identified suspect in a taxicab robbery-shooting homicide of Andres Valenzuela which had occurred in New Rochelle, NY on October 14, 2021. The Hi-Standard, .22 caliber revolver and ammunition allegedly used by Ross were manufactured outside the state of New York.

Ross was arraigned on October 18, 2021, in Brooklyn in front of Judge Robert M. Levy, U.S. Magistrate Judge Eastern District of New York on federal charges in addition to a murder charge for killing Andres Valenzuela, a taxi driver, on October 14th in New Rochelle.

Ross has an extensive criminal history before his recent arrest. On November 26, 2008, in the United States District Court Northern District of Ohio, Percell Ross was convicted of being a Felon in Possession in of a Firearm, for which he was sentenced to 65 months federal incarceration. On November 14, 2014, Ross was convicted of the felony of Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer in the Allegheny County Court of Virginia and sentenced to a term of 1 year incarceration. On March 20, 2017, in the Switzerland County Court of Indiana, Ross was convicted of the felony of Robbery and sentenced to a term of 5 years incarceration.

According to a report from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, Percell Lamont Ross used multiple aliases (Blakemy, Percell; Blakeney, P; Blakeney, Percel L; Blakeney, Percell l; Blakeny, Percel; Blakeny, Percell; Blakeny, Percell Lament; Blakeny, Ross; Blakney, Percell; Kendall, Jerome; Percell, Ross Lamont; Robinson, Teamo; Ross, Percell and dates of birth (1969/0908; 1967/0907; 1967/0908; 1968/0908; 1969/0808; 1969/0909; 1972/1013).

On May 17, 2022, members of the New Rochelle Police Department Criminal Investigations Division received awards for the arrest of Percell Ross, who is alleged to have murdered New Rochelle Taxi driver Andres Valenzuela on October 14, 2021. Percell was taken into custody on October 18, 2021, in Brooklyn after engaging with officers in a gun battle.

From left to right: Detective Geralis, Detective Lieutenant Fagan, Sergeant Kane, Police Officer Rodriguez, Detective Adrian, Detective Herring, Police Officer Velasco, Police Officer Correale, Detective McGloin, Detective Spinner, and Detective Ladeairous.

The following officers were involved in the investigation that helped zero in on Percell’s whereabouts photographed: Detective Adrian, Detective Messina, Police Officer Specialist Diaz, Detective Herring, Police Officer Velasco, Civilian Massaregli, Detective Spinner, Captain Coyne, Detective Ladeairous, Police Officer Rodriguez, Detective McGloin, Detective Lieutenant Fagan, and Sergeant Kane.

Not photographed are Detective K. Geertgens, Detective Geralis, Detective Ciafardini, Detective S. Geertgens, Sergeant Jones, Police Officer Alec McKenna, and Sergeant Kyle McCarrick from the Westchester County Police Department.

United States v. Percell Ross, 21-CR-571 (BMC) (LB) Docket as of 5/26/22
Key Documents Filed With Court

21-CR-571-1-10/18/2021 Complaint

21-CR-571-2-10/18/2021 Order of Detention

21-CR-571-4-11/15/2021 Indictment

21-CR-571-8-12/10/2021 Letter (Discovery Request)

21-CR-571-10-04/27/2022 Motion to Suppress

21-CR-571-11-05/13/2022 Response in Opposition

21-CR-571-11-05/13/2022 Response in Opposition NCIC Exhibit

21-CR-571-12-05/23/2022 Reply to Response

21-CR-571-13-05/26/2022 Letter (Laptop, Law Library)

21-CR-571-14-05/26/2022 Letter (Evidentiary Hearing)


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