Bizarre Appeal by Killers Defeated in 2nd Circuit

     (CN) – The siblings who made headlines and Lifetime film fodder by hiring hit men to kill a multimillionaire and his mother failed Wednesday to overturn their convictions.
     Narcisa “Narcy” Veliz-Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, are serving life sentences in connection to the murders of the multimillionaire Narcy had married and his elderly mother.
     Bernice Novak, whose former husband built the famed Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, was 86 in April 2009 when she was killed. A hit man whom the siblings had hired watched the old woman enter her house through her garage, followed her inside and then beat her to death with a wrench, according to the ruling.
     Three months later, Ben Novack Jr. was found dead, tied up with his eyes sliced out, in the Rye, N.Y., hotel room where he and Narcy had been staying.
     Narcy waited until her husband was asleep, then let into the room two hit men who beat the man with dumbbells.
     A jury found that Narcy and her brother had arranged the murders so Narcy and her children from a previous marriage could take over Ben’s estate, which reportedly included a coveted collection of Batman memorabilia.
     The murder case inspired the 2015 Lifetime movie “Beautiful & Twisted,” starring Rob Lowe and Candice Bergen.
     Narcy and Veliz meanwhile appealed their convictions to the Second Circuit on numerous grounds, including a claim that they were denied a competency hearing.
     A three-judge panel in Manhattan affirmed their convictions Wednesday via summary order, scoffing at the brother’s claim that his testimony at trial had been so outlandish that it reflected “debilitating delusions.”
     “That Veliz’s perjury may have been uniquely brazen does not render him incompetent to stand trial,” the unsigned, 22-page decision states.
     Though Veliz suggested his trial testimony revealed an inability to answer questions coherently, the appeals court found that “this problem appears conveniently to have manifested itself only during the government’s cross-examination.”
     Narcy meanwhile tried to argue that she was unfit to stand trial based on an outburst from her while a witness was testifying against her.
     “Why are you doing this to me,” she had said. “I’m innocent. Why don’t you arrest that man?”
     She also highlighted how she insisted on wearing an orange jumpsuit to trial, claiming at the time, “The world needs to know what has happened to this widow.”
     The Second Circuit held firm, however, writing that “such behavior is more indicative of a misguided attempt to manipulate the process than of any incompetency.”
     The appeals court also dismissed Narcy and Veliz’s contention that the racketeering charges against them were invalid since, in the Bernice murder, they supposedly did not intend to kill the woman.
     In support of this claim, the siblings noted testimony from the hit man that Veliz had instructed him to give the old woman “a good beating and to knock off her teeth.”
     Undermining this evidence for the appeals court, however, is the fact that Narcy and Veliz enlisted this same hit man to kill Ben despite having allegedly gone overboard by killing Bernice when instructed to merely beat her.
     As for Narcy and Veliz’s sufficiency-of-evidence arguments, the court emphasized the “repeated and overlapping participation” of the individuals involved in the murder conspiracy.
     The court was likewise unmoved by two evidentiary challenges, and a violation-of-due-process claim proffered by Narcy.
     Veliz also appealed a witness-tampering conviction that involved his attempts to have one of the hit men killed to prevent his cooperation with investigators.
     Finding that this claim warranted “greater discussion,” the Second Circuit addressed it in a separate opinion.
     Judge Gerard Lynch wrote this 36-page decision, which finds “that sufficient evidence supported the jury’s finding.”
     Judges Pierre Leval and Raymond Lohier concurred.
     A court battle between Narcy’s children and her former in-laws meanwhile is playing out in Florida over the Novack estate.

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