When Roysce “Yusef” Haynes was led into a third-floor Criminal Justice Center courtroom wearing a hijab and handcuffs Tuesday morning, the sound which filled the gallery was that of an audible gasp.
It came from the mother of Atiya Perry, the 24-year-old pregnant woman who Haynes is charged with strangling to death in the East Germantown apartment they shared in September.
For the next 20 minutes, she clenched tissues in both hands, wiping away tears as homicide Det. Edward Tolliver read gruesome details from Haynes’ confession.
Those details, with very little rebuttal from the defense attorney at the preliminary hearing, led Municipal Court Judge David C. Shuter to order Haynes held for trial on charges of first-degree murder and criminal homicide of an unborn child.
However, he dismissed an abuse-of-corpse charge after hearing Haynes’ assertion that after killing his wife of two months, he cleaned her body and wrapped it in a sheet in accordance with Muslim pre-funeral custom.
What the suspect says happened
On Sept. 10, probation agents arrived at a tiny one-bedroom efficiency on the 800 block of E. Chelten Ave. to perform a routine check on Haynes. There, they found Perry’s body and took Haynes into custody.
When he got to the Roundhouse, Haynes requested a cup of hot tea and was interviewed by two detectives, one of whom was Tolliver.
“I didn’t mean to kill her,” the suspect allegedly told them, continuing that an argument about family interference in religious matters led her to an altercation during which Perry started “hitting me with a closed fist on the side of the head. She pulled out her pepper spray. That’s when I choked her. … I felt her go limp.”
Haynes’ statement makes mention of having met Perry in March and getting married in July. He claimed that her family was “telling her not to wear her [Muslim] garb,” and this caused problems in their relationship.
Perry’s family did not want to talk immediately after the hearing, but her mother thanked NewsWorks for covering the story. There were a dozen supporters there, some wearing RIP Atiya T-shirts.
Haynes’ stepfather also attended the hearing; in the hallway after the hearing, he was told that Haynes expected his attorneys to get him released from custody on Tuesday.
In August, Perry went to Albert Einstein Medical Center to seek treatment for what she thought was a concussion suffered when she fell onto the floor after Haynes threw her onto their bed during a scuffle, the suspect’s statement maintained.
The next month, Perry told him she was pregnant. He told detectives that “I didn’t believe she was,” so they got into another altercation when he accompanied her to a pre-natal appointment that had never been scheduled.
Two days later, Perry would be dead. According to Haynes statement, he unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate her. He did not call for medical assistance, however.
“I hate myself right now for what I’ve done. I can’t look at myself in the mirror,” Haynes said in the statement. “I don’t know how I’m going to tell her family. … Why did I do it?”
In arguing to get first-degree murder charges reduced to third-degree, and the unborn-child homicide dismissed, defense attorney Wendy Ramos unsuccessfully argued that it wasn’t premediated, and he did not know that his wife was pregnant at the time.
“He basically flipped,” she said.
Why probation agents was there
The agents were checking on Haynes in relation to a 2011 case in which he pleaded guilty to simple assault and was given 18 months probation, according to court records that stated aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person charges were withdrawn.
Seven years earlier, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to up to 23 months incarceration and two years probation.