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Granny beating retrial begins

Solange Elizee was an 85-year-old woman suffering from Parkinson’s, diabetes and high blood pressure when she was beaten and robbed outside her Jamaica apartment in 2007, her son told a jury in State Supreme Court in Queens Monday.

“When I saw her at the hospital, she was black and blue with blood on her,” Charles Elizee testified at the re-trial for Jack Rhodes, a Long Island City man accused of attacking two elderly women.

This is the second trial for Rhodes, 46, who is charged with the assault and robbery of Solange Elizee and 101-year-old Jamaica Estates resident Rose Morat. Queens Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak declared a mistrial in December after a jury forewoman complained she had missed too much work during the month-long trial and needed to leave the proceeding to visit her mother.

According to police, Rhodes robbed and beat Morat and Solange Elizee within hours of each other on March 4, 2007. The DA has alleged that Morat was leaving the elevator at her apartment building when Rhodes offered to open the front door for her. The defendant then allegedly repeatedly punched Morat on the left side of her face, causing her to fall to the ground. Rhodes made off with her purse, which had $33 in it, according to the DA.

Rhodes allegedly punched Solange Elizee in the face and stole $45 and jewelry, police said.

Rhodes faces up to 25 years in prison if found guilty on the 35 counts of burglary, assault and robbery with which he is charged, the DA’s office said.

The prosecution, led by Assistant District Attorney Eugene Reibstein, brought forward witnesses last week and this week, including Charles Elizee. Solange Elizee’s son, who had moved out of his mother’s house just three days prior to the attack, said two rings were stolen from his mother, both of which had been gifts from family members.

Mary Lee Dugan, an EMT worker at Jamaica Hospital, also testified Monday.

Dugan, who treated Elizee March 4, 2007, said the elderly woman was “very shaken up, very scared,” when she saw her that day.

“She was very nervous, very scared the whole time,” Dugan said of her time with Solange Elizee.

Defense attorney Paul Montgomery, who had asked for a mistrial, had previously said he believed the first trial was unfair because the court had “prejudged” Rhodes. Montgomery had complained that Lasak unfairly allowed the prosecution to put up more witnesses than the defense.

Assistant District Attorney Dianna Megias, who was the prosecutor in the first trial, blamed defense attorneys for intentionally prolonging the trial by asking for three days to prepare Rhodes to testify and then announcing Rhodes would not testify.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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