Defense attorney requests hearing on missing Epstein footage

A defense attorney wants a judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the federal government deliberately deleted video footage of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's cell on the day he survived an apparent suicide attempt inside a New York jail

NEW YORK -- A defense attorney wants a federal judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the federal government intentionally deleted video of the area around Jeffrey Epstein's cell from the day he survived an apparent suicide attempt inside a New York jail.

The attorney for Epstein's former cellmate filed a motion late Monday saying the missing footage would show Nicholas Tartaglione tried to help Epstein on July 23 when guards found the wealthy financier with bruises on his neck. Epstein later hanged himself Aug. 10 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

The request came days after federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas that video from the hallway outside the cell Epstein shared with Tartaglione “ no longer exists.”

Officials at the Metropolitan Correctional Center believed they had preserved the footage, prosecutors said, but they actually saved a video from a different part of the jail. The FBI determined the footage also does not exist on the jail’s backup video system “as a result of technical errors,” they wrote in a court filing.

Defense attorney Bruce Barket asked Karas to hold a hearing to determine how the video was destroyed and “whether there was any bad faith on the part of the Government in connection with the video’s destruction.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan declined to comment on the motion.

Barket told The Associated Press last week the government's “various and inconsistent accounts of what happened to (the jailhouse) video are deeply troubling.”

He argued Monday the video could convince a federal jury that Tartaglione does not deserve the death penalty in his case because he “demonstrated concern for the life of his cellmate, took steps to aid a fellow inmate in distress and summoned staff for assistance.”

Tartaglione, a former police officer, is charged in what prosecutors have described as the “gangland-style” killings of four men who disappeared during a cocaine-related dispute.