Monday, January 6, 2003


Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced today that an imprisoned inmate has been indicted on murder charges for a 1992 fatal shooting in Corona, Queens for which another man had been convicted and sent to prison.

District Attorney Brown said, “The prosecution of Lazaro Burt for murder resulted in a terrible injustice -- his imprisonment for 10 years for a crime that he did not commit. He is now a free man because prosecutors reviewed his case based on newly discovered evidence, found an eyewitness to the crime who had been afraid to come forward a decade ago and persuaded him to give evidence to vindicate Mr. Burt.”

The District Attorney identified the defendant as Jarrett Smith, 38, formerly of 100-09 32nd Avenue, East Elmhurst, who has been in prison serving a 34 to 40 year sentence for two 1999 robbery and attempted murder charges in Manhattan. The defendant has been charged with Murder in the Second Degree and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

The District Attorney said that his investigation began in May 2002 when Suffolk County police provided information to the District Attorney’s office that it was Smith who had been the gunman involved in the August 20, l992 fatal shooting of Wilfredo Cesaero on the corner of 105th Street and Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst.

The victim’s wife, Lissette Saillant, then 23, had identified Burt as the killer after the fatal shooting and Burt was later convicted in Queens Supreme Court on March 9, 1994 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Last May Assistant District Attorney Joshua D. Martin under the supervision Assistant District Attorney Peter T. Reese and Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Gregory L. Lasak used the information obtained from Suffolk County police to locate Carl Drummond and persuade him to tell the truth despite his fear for his and his family’s safety.

Drummond testified at a court hearing on September 26, 2002 and identified Smith as the individual he had seen fire the fatal gunshots that resulted in Cesaero’s death. Saillant also testified and admitted that she had been mistaken when she identified Burt as her husband’s killer and admitted that she had not told the police or the District Attorney about her mistake until June 2002.

The investigation was conducted by Assistant District Attorney Joshua D. Martin of the District Attorney’s Homicide Investigations Division under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Peter T. Reese, Bureau Chief and Assistant District Attorney Robert T. Schwerdt, Deputy Chief and the under the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Major Crimes Gregory L. Lasak.

It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.