Crime

Lawyer in Boise double murder case also represents Bill Cosby

Anthony Robins, Jr., center, appears with attorney Brian McMonagle, left, in the double homicide trial in Ada County District Court. Robins is accused of hiring John C. Douglas to kill Travontae Calloway and Elliott Bailey for allegedly stealing 30 pounds of marijuana that belonged to Robins.
Anthony Robins, Jr., center, appears with attorney Brian McMonagle, left, in the double homicide trial in Ada County District Court. Robins is accused of hiring John C. Douglas to kill Travontae Calloway and Elliott Bailey for allegedly stealing 30 pounds of marijuana that belonged to Robins. doswald@idahostatesman.com

Since he agreed to represent Anthony J. Robins Jr. in the South Orchard Street killings, Philadelphia attorney Brian McMonagle has picked up an A-list client.

McMonagle, one of two lawyers representing Bill Cosby in a sexual assault case, is a revered criminal defense attorney whose past clients include organized crime members, rappers, athletes and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia during the searing priest-pedophile scandal.

“He takes a very, very aggressive posture, but does it in a diplomatic and smooth fashion. It’s almost like an iron fist in a velvet glove. He is a strong advocate for his client, but can break tension with a quip or a joke,” said fellow Philadelphia criminal lawyer William J. Brennan. “Mr. Cosby is lucky to have him.”

In Boise, McMonagle is representing Robins against charges that he ordered a hit on drug dealers Travontae Calloway and Elliott Bailey in May 2014. The two Boise men were accused of stealing 30 pounds of marijuana, valued at $100,000, from a home where it was being stored.

In the Cosby case, McMonagle, 57, is expected to lead the defense arguments inside the courtroom when Cosby, 78, returns to court Feb. 2 in a crucial bid to have his case dismissed. McMonagle will attack the 12-year delay to file charges, the use of Cosby’s deposition from accuser Andrea Constand’s civil case, and the government’s plan to call other accusers to show a pattern of behavior.

But attorney Monique Pressley will be the lawyer people see on TV in their living rooms. She is a TV legal analyst with side jobs as a pastor, motivational speaker and radio host. She got a taste of the limelight as a law student, posing a question about race in the O.J. Simpson trial on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

Pressley, 45, was plucked from relative obscurity to lead the sprawling flock of lawyers Cosby has deployed to fight sexual assault and defamation battles in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California, involving some of the dozens of women who accuse him of drugging and molesting them. After stints as both a prosecutor and public defender in Washington, D.C., she was doing TV commentary on the case when she impressed someone in the Cosby camp last fall.

Constand, now 42, went to police in 2005 to allege that Cosby had drugged and violated her a year earlier at his home near Philadelphia. Cosby called the contact consensual.

McMonagle will argue that a former prosecutor made a deal that Cosby would never be prosecuted and could therefore testify, without invoking his right not to incriminate himself, in Constand’s later civil suit. In the deposition, unsealed last year, Cosby detailed his romantic interest in Constand, who is gay; his pursuit of other young women during his long marriage; and his use of quaaludes in the 1970s as a seduction tool. He settled with Constand soon afterward.

Incoming District Attorney Kevin Steele pondered that testimony, along with the dozens of new accusers, and decided to charge Cosby weeks before the 12-year statute of limitations expired this month. He has said there is no evidence that Cosby had an immunity deal with former prosecutor Bruce Castor.

McMonagle has pulled off wins in cases no less difficult.

He unearthed a lab error in a drug-linked date rape case involving a local GOP official; helped persuade authorities not to charge future NBA standout Tyreke Evans as an accessory in a fatal 2007 shooting; and helped Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua avoid testifying in open court in the priest sex-abuse case. The elderly Bevilacqua died before a loyal aide was convicted in 2012 of keeping the church’s sordid secrets under lock and key.

John Sowell contributed. jsowell@idahostatesman.com

Surviving victim in Orchard Street murders says she wasn’t impaired

Jeanette Juraska testified Friday that she clearly saw John C. Douglas push his way into her Boise apartment and fatally shoot Travontae Calloway, 27, and Elliott Bailey, 28, on May 8, 2014.

Juraska, 29, denied that she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol that evening. She stood up and pointed to Douglas, who she said she knew as “Big Man,” as the person who fired the gun and shot her in the left arm as she scrambled up the stairs of the two-story apartment in an attempt to get away.

She stood again and pointed out Anthony Robins Jr. as the man who rode with her and Calloway on a trip to a California marijuana farm a few months earlier.

Juraska repeated the account she told at an earlier preliminary hearing for Douglas, 45, of Reading, Pa., and Anthony J. Robins Jr, 35, of Fremont, Calif. Robins is accused of arranging for Douglas to murder the two men.

The defense suggested that Juraska was impaired and only saw the shooter for a few seconds before she scrambled up the stairs. Juraska admitted taking a codeine-based pain killer earlier that day, plus an anxiety pill and two shots of alcohol in the evening. Doctors who treated her for her injury and police detectives who interviewed her in the emergency room said she showed no indication of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Juraska initially told police she didn’t know who shot her. Later, while she was still in the hospital, she said Big Man was the shooter.

Juraska testified that she wasn’t coherent after being given a painkiller and that she was scared for her life. A Boise police detective said she told him she didn’t want to be labeled as a snitch.

“I was afraid they were going to come back after me,” Juraska said.

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