The Sedor-Monson connection: The pattern that isn’t a pattern

Many of the corruption claims that are flitted around about the Cayuga County judicial system are centered around three overturned murder cases: The George Sedor murder case, the Julie Monson murder case and the Sabina Kulakowski murder case.

In all three cases, it is alleged the prosecution withheld or ignored evidence incriminating someone other than their suspect. It is a pattern of corruption, some say, that can’t be ignored. A pattern that hints to a coverup of some sort.

But outside of the very rudimentary facts — that all three were murder cases where convictions were overturned — there is little to tie the three cases together. All three were tried by different district attorneys, in front of different judges, with different defense attorneys (except one).

Here’s a quick breakdown of what happened in the Sedor case, which I hope to explore more in the future:

Sammy and Willie Gene Thomas were convicted of murder after a jury trial, found guilty of gunning down George Sedor in the parking lot of the Sunset and robbing him of about $2,000 in restaurant receipts. That verdict was overturned by a higher court, which found Peter Corning, who was DA at the time, withheld evidence: a statement from the victim’s brother in which he said he saw two white men flee the scene.

This is all most know about this story: Two black men are convicted because Corning lied. Clearly the killers were white.

In fact, there was other evidence against Sammy and Willie Gene, including testimony from Steven Wejko, who admitted he planned the robbery and provided the two men with guns — guns ultimately traced back to Wejko. Wejko’s wife testified that she was present when the robbery was planned as well, verifying her husband’s testimony. Wejko pleaded guilty to robbery and was sent to prison for his involvement in the crime. His lawyer’s name will be familiar: William Lynn of Syracuse, who represented Thomas Bianco.

As for the big secret evidence Corning withheld? It wasn’t much of a secret. In fact, during the first days after the killing, the newspapers reported police were looking for two white men. Later, they found the victim’s brother didn’t actually see the shooting, and only saw the men from behind; he didn’t know what color they were. Another witness, who happened to be nearby, said he saw two black men flee the scene, but he couldn’t identify or describe them.

Willie Gene Thomas, who prosecutors believed fired the shots that killed Sedor, was retried. The jury acquitted him. Defense attorney Linda Lavery based her case on the prosecution’s reliance on Wejko’s testimony, and the lack of corroboration — Wejko’s friend, Rick Dorcy, who was set to testify, had skipped town. He was apparently wanted on a warrant for kidnapping. He had originally told police that the guns used in the killing belonged to Wejko.

Dorcy was also known to drive a white mustang, which was seen at the Sunset the night of the murder. He was a police informant at times, was known to have been engaged in criminal activity with Wejko, and had borrowed the murder weapon (a 22-caliber Beretta) from Wejko in the past. This was proved through ballistics to be the murder weapon. He also told police he had been in Iowa the night of the murder, though his wife said otherwise.

The jury in Thomas’s second trial acquitted him — not surprisingly, based on the fact that Dorcy was not at trial to take the stand, and his name recurred throughout the trial as a person of interest.

Following the acquittal, the judge tossed the charges against Sammy Thomas. DA Ross Tisci, who prosecuted the second trial, decided against an appeal.

Of course, Lavery must have relied heavily on that statement from Sedor’s brother, right? The one that pointed to two white men? In fact, she didn’t. Although the judge ordered a new trial, finding the jury should have seen that evidence, it wasn’t a factor in the second trial.

We may not know, to this day, who pulled the trigger that killed George Sedor. But we do know the mastermind behind who plotted it. And though Dorcy was clearly bad news, no witnesses described anyone even resembling Dorcy — a slight, short man with long, blonde hair and a large tattoo on his arm.

Both Corning and Tisci believed in the Thomas brothers’ guilt enough to take them to trial. Tisci lost, but his opponent, Linda Lavery, credited him with presenting the case, and told the local paper that had the jury sided against her client, she wouldn’t likely have an avenue to file an appeal..