Claims about false confessions are usually made by defendants not prosecutors. But in a peculiar turn of events in Erie County, District Attorney Jack Daneri is arguing that his Chief Deputy, Brian Krowicki, made a false confession last July when he told the judge in a 2013 attempted murder case that he had intentionally withheld evidence from the defense. As GoErie.com explains:
A top Erie County prosecutor walked into the chambers of an Erie County judge in July and made a startling confession.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Krowicki told Judge Shad Connelly he had intentionally withheld evidence — two audiotapes — he was supposed to turn over to an Erie man convicted in May of slashing the throats of an elderly couple in their eastside home in 2013.
Krowicki’s statement, on its face, carried the potential to free the defendant, Adam J. Brown — a 23-year-old repeat offender whom Connelly likened to an animal and called “a clear and present danger to the community” when he sentenced Brown to 60 to 120 years for nearly killing the couple.
The questions now before Connelly are unprecedented in Erie County Court. How damaging is Krowicki’s statement to the case? Was it, as Brown is arguing, a credible admission of prosecutorial misconduct that irrevocably tainted his trial and should set aside his conviction forever?
Or was it, as District Attorney Jack Daneri contends, a false confession, brought on by Krowicki’s mental state, that should have no bearing on the jury’s guilty verdict?
These were the questions raised at a highly unusual hearing late last week in front of the judge in the case, at which both Krowicki, who is currently on “medical leave under treatment for an anxiety disorder” and his boss, DA Daneri testified.
Krowiciki testified Friday he discussed the CD with Erie police Detective Julie Kemling and Brown’s trial counsel, Assistant Public Defender Kevin Kallenbach, just before Brown’s trial in May. Krowicki said he became intensely worried after trial that he should have done more to make Brown aware of the CD. But Daneri, Kemling and Kallenbach all testified the first time they talked to Krowicki about the audio recordings was in July, after Brown, representing himself, filed an appeal.
Krowicki’s psychologist testified Krowicki manufactured memories about his handling of evidence, including his confession to withholding it, because he could not accept that he had made a mistake.
Daneri said “Krowicki’s confession, if left unchallenged, could put ‘the integrity of our office in question.'” As of November 1st, Brown had been appointed counsel for the remainder of his appeal. He is asking the judge for a new trial or to dismiss the case owing to the failure to disclose the audiotapes. A ruling is not expected before the end of the month.