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E-Mails Read In Court

May 5, 2001

The lawyer of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her cousin's 7-year-old son read out e-mails in court Friday as he continued to attack the credibility of the state's key witness, the second person accused in the attack.

The e-mails were allegedly exchanged between Alexis Grajales and his girlfriend, India Riley, a week after the brutal attack in the Windsor home of Tammi Cuyler. Grajales faces a lesser sentence after agreeing to testify against Chasity West in her murder trial.

West is accused in the fatal stabbing of 7-year-old Jarrell Cuyler and the slashing attack on his younger sister, Lindsey.

Friday in Superior Court, West's attorney, Hubert Santos, read an e-mail from Riley to Grajales.

"Please save the lies for someone who wants to listen because you know good and well if I wanted to talk, I wouldn't be around,'' Santos quoted Riley as telling Grajales.

Riley is a first cousin of Tammi Cuyler. West also is a first cousin of Cuyler.

Grajales, even after Santos showed him printouts of the e-mails, said he could not recall them. Earlier, he told Santos that after rushing back to his East Hartford home the night of the assaults, he immediately telephoned Riley. But he said they discussed nothing of importance, and both fell asleep while still on the phone to each other.

Santos is attempting to implicate Grajales, Riley and associates of Grajales, not including West, in the July 9, 1998, slaying and assault. But no evidence has yet been introduced to support this scenario , which came out only during Santos' arguments to Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Miano, with the jury absent.

Assistant State's Attorney Rosita Creamer objected to Santos' theories.

West, 26, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Grajales has confessed to holding Cuyler down on her living room floor, but he has denied he knew that West was going to attack the two children.

The battle between Santos and Creamer over Grajales' credibility continued for the third day, with the 12-member jury and 4 alternates taking plenty of time out of court for legal arguments.

While being questioned by Creamer in front of the jury, Grajales acknowledged he was testifying as the only witness who could identify West as the second of the two people in stocking masks who broke into the Cuyler home that night.

He said he decided to testify for the prosecution in exchange for a promise that he would get no more than 25 years in prison for his role in holding Cuyler while, he said, West was assaulting her children.

At the time, Grajales was 18, living with his mother in East Hartford and working as a claims processor at Aetna Inc.

Repeatedly Friday, Santos asked Grajales questions about allegedly incriminating statements he made to others, and repeatedly those queries prompted objections from Creamer. Creamer argued that Santos should not be allowed to put allegations from West about Grajales before the jury, when there was no guarantee West will testify in support of them.

But Santos successfully argued West had a constitutional right to confront her accuser.

Back before the jury, Miano allowed Santos to ask Grajales questions about allegations West had made about him.

Grajales denied West had asked him who killed Jarrell Cuyler. He denied telling West, "You are going down for starting this whole thing." He denied saying to West, "If you tell, everyone's going to jail, including India."

By THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, The Hartford Courant. © 2001 MyWay Corp. Portions © 2001


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