FORT GREENE – The trial of David Keegan Riotto Haigh, a Philadelphia man charged with stabbing James Koron Johnson to death in the Ingersoll Houses last spring, will begin on April 30 in the Kings County Supreme Court.
The case first attracted media attention from details tailor-made for sensationalist headlines. The two men connected via a gay hookup app and unidentified police sources initially leaked allegations to the press that the stabbing was the result of a “drug-fueled rage”.
At an October bail hearing, however, Haigh’s defense team presented evidence bolstering their client’s claims that the killing was self-defense. Johnson had been wanted by the NYPD in relation to a sexual assault in his apartment just days before his death and phone records show that Haigh called 911 before the killing.
Haigh has been in custody since the incident occured on April 9 of last year, with his case being delayed by the retirement of judge to whom it was originally assigned. Haigh’s attorney, Thomas Andrykovitz, has also filed numerous motions relating to the pace of the prosecution’s sharing of evidence with the defense.
The case is now assigned to Judge Vincent Del Giudice and Friday morning’s session was his first overseeing the case.
Haigh was brought into the crowded courtroom just after 11 a.m. Wearing handcuffs and the tan uniform given to inmates at the Brooklyn Detention Complex, he acknowledged his family and friends in attendance as he was led to the stand.
During the hearing, little of note was said on the record. At one point, Del Giudice summoned Andrykovitz and a representative of the Kings County District Attorney’s office to approach the bench. During the conference, Del Giudice appeared to direct many of his comments towards the DA’s representative.
As the conference ended and the lawyers walked away, Del Giudice continued: “I can’t imagine someone pleading guilty to something without seeing the evidence against them.”
With the agreement of both lawyers, the judge then set the trial date and the hearing was adjourned.
As guards led Haigh from the courtroom, he turned his head towards the gallery. He mouthed “I love you” in the direction of his sisters as the door closed behind him.