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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Searching for Truth at the Palladium

    Stony Brook’s new and improved school of journalism continued it series ‘My Life As’hellip;’ this past Tuesday Feb.13 in the Javits Center. This event entitled ‘Murder at Palladium,’ involved a joint effort by Alumni Dan Slepian, an award-wining producer of NBC’s Dateline, and Bobby Addolorato, a Bronx homicide detective. The lecture challenged common perceptions between the relationships developed by authorities and the press.’ This event, ‘The Murder at Palladium,’ consisted of a story filled with suspicion, questionable police tactics, an uncompromising District Attorney and the possible wrongful conviction of two innocent men.
    Addolorato was independently working on the case when Slepian contacted him regarding a Dateline special. It was a quest for the truth at the Palladium nightclub shooting, which occurred on November 23 1990, and took the lives of two people. David Lemus and Olmedo Hidalgo were charged for second-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five years to life. However, new evidence by witnesses, as well as evidence of inadequate investigation by police, had created a shadow of doubt on the case. Despite pressure from his superiors to ignore the case, Addolorato was adamant about finding the truth. As Addolorato said during the speech, ”This was a defining moment on how what we do matters.’
    A Dateline NBC documentary that Slepian produced was presented in the lecture as it’ followed the steps Addolorato and his partner made in an attempt to discover the truth. During this process, Slepian and his cameras followed the detective through the long process of proving Lemus’ and Hidalgo’s innocence.
    Although Addolorato was at first skeptical to Slepian’s involvement, he soon realized the benefit cameras and the mass media made as they pressured administrators and the district attorneys involved in the case to find the truth. Slepian also spoke about the trust that slowly formed between them as each had to make decisive judgments on what issues should be highlighted as both parties worked to uncover the truth, while respecting the privacy of the people involved in the case. ‘Dan never lied to us,’ commented Addolorato concerning Slepian’s words and integrity as a journalist.
    Slepian described the walls he hit while working on the story as a producer for a show such as dateline. Pressure came from both supervisors and his co-workers as he continued the three-year long reporting about a story that according to his superiors said, ‘would not be a rating magnet.’ However, this was an issue that he was ‘passionate about’ and felt that had to be covered.
    Slepian commented, ‘This story was unique because when you see something you believe is fundamentally wrong, it is difficult not to have blinders on.” He described his struggles in remaining objective, ‘Belief was the motivator but you can’t let that blind you.’
    In the end, due to the efforts by both Addolorato and Slepian, Lemus and Hidalgo are in the process of a fairer trial. After 15 years in prison, Hidalgo was released but was soon deported to the Dominican Republic. Lemus is awaiting a second trial.

    Katharine O’Dette and Talia Eapen contributed reporting.

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