(NEW YORK) — Prosecutors do not want a “witch doctor” to take the stand in the defense of an African man accused of killing a New York City college student, according to court documents and the defendant’s attorney.
The first-degree murder trial of Bakary Camara, 42, a Senagalese man accused of killing Rita Morelli, a student and co-worker at a Manhattan clothing shop, is set to begin Tuesday. After his arrest last year, Camara allegedly told police that evil spirits led him to stab Morelli, 36, to death in her apartment. He has since pleaded not guilty.
“The people respectfully request the court to preclude the defense from calling a ‘witch doctor’ at trial,” Manhattan prosecutor Evan Krutoy wrote the judge last week, according to documents first obtained by the New York Post.
“It is difficult to imagine how a ‘witch doctor’ could be qualified in a court of law,” the prosecutor added. “The defense cannot credibly argue that witchcraft is a profession [with] scientific knowledge or skill.”
Camara’s lawyer, however, objects to characterizing her witness as a “witch doctor.”
“That’s not my term. I wouldn’t call him that,” Camara’s attorney, Seema Iyer, said. “I’d call him a spiritual adviser.”
Iyer said she could not discuss the strategy for defending her client in detail, but said she would “soon be in court to talk about who can testify.”
Camara was arrested last year after cops found him in his own apartment trying to commit suicide. A note found in his apartment allegedly read, “I killed Rita.”
Camara later allegedly told police the evil spirits told him to kill Morelli, an Italian national with whom he worked at clothing store 7 for All Mankind.
“They put a curse on me,” the note read.
It is unclear whether Camara and Morelli were involved romantically.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire