Conroy attorney tries to shake detective's testimony

Detective John McLeer, left, of the Suffolk County

Detective John McLeer, left, of the Suffolk County Homicide Squad leaves court after giving his testimony in the trial of Jeffrey Conroy. (April 5, 2010) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

The attorney for a Medford teenager accused of fatally stabbing an Ecuadorean immigrant tried Tuesday to cast doubt on parts of a statement taken by the lead Suffolk County police detective in the case.

Defense attorney William Keahon spent much of the day cross-examining Det. John McLeer, a prosecution witness, and asking how McLeer had questioned defendant Jeffrey Conroy, 19.

Conroy, facing charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter as hate crimes, was arrested with six other teens for the Nov. 8, 2008, stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero, 37, of Patchogue.

Keahon asked how McLeer took Conroy's statement.

"These are Jeff's thoughts," McLeer said, explaining he wrote out the statement as told to him by Conroy.

"So Jeff would say something - you would interpret it," Keahon replied.

Testifying in Riverhead, McLeer said Lucero swung his belt and "pushed" or "moved toward" the seven teens as they confronted him near the Patchogue train station.

Making an arm motion as if swinging a belt, Keahon suggested Lucero "chased" the teens to a nearby parking lot.

"I wouldn't use the word 'chase,' " McLeer testified. "He moves towards them, toward the parking lot."

Keahon wanted to know whether McLeer asked Conroy whether he was physically in the group surrounding Lucero.

McLeer said he didn't have to ask because the teenager repeatedly used the pronoun "we."

Quoting from Conroy's statement, McLeer read, "The rest of us walked up closer knowing we were going to fight." And then McLeer said, "He [Conroy] was part of 'we.' "

Keahon asked McLeer if he specifically asked Conroy why he went to Patchogue. McLeer said he already had learned why Conroy had gone there.

Witnesses have testified the teens decided to go look for Hispanic people.

Last week, retired Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Stuart Dawson said wounds on Lucero's lips looked like they were caused by a punch.

Keahon also asked McLeer whether Lucero was "hit more than once." McLeer said no.

McLeer said Lucero's blood was found on Conroy's tank top, the back of his jeans and on a knife that police retrieved.

Keahon is expected to call defense witnesses Wednesday.

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