A jury Friday convicted a Hempstead man of manslaughter in the 2014 slaying of a teenager who authorities said died after a machete attack that severed a jugular vein.
Defendant David Sadler, 47, hugged his attorney and wiped away tears of relief after a verdict that also acquitted him of second-degree murder.
Sadler had claimed he acted in self-defense during a robbery.
But through tears of her own, Greta Price, the mother of the 17-year-old victim, Terrence Grier Jr., said outside Nassau County Court that while her son “was never coming home,” Sadler would have a chance to get out of prison someday.
Price, 48, of Hempstead, said Sadler should have been convicted of murder, and pledged to demand at his April 1 sentencing that he get the maximum punishment.
The father of the victim known as T.J., Terrence Grier Sr., 51, also expressed some disappointment with the verdict.
“There was nothing we could do. It was in the jury’s hands,” he said.
Authorities said Sadler faces up to 25 years behind bars. He could have faced up to 25 years to life in prison if found guilty of murder. The jury also convicted him of a weapons charge.
During the trial, Nassau prosecutor Martin Meaney said Sadler fatally injured Grier in a confrontation on a Hempstead street on July 18, 2014, after a dice game.
Meaney said Sadler, a local pizza delivery man, had been playing dice with the victim and others, and an argument got physical after Sadler lost his money.
The prosecutor said Sadler then got a machete and walked up and down the block before approaching the victim, who told Sadler to drop the knife if he wanted to fight.
Instead, Sadler swung the machete at Grier, inflicting a gaping neck wound, Meaney told jurors, adding: “This was no self-defense. T.J. had nothing in his hand.”
The victim, who had a summer job with the Hempstead Village parks department, stumbled away, collapsed and later died despite 911 calls and efforts to save him.
The prosecutor said Sadler fled in his car after Grier’s friends tried unsuccessfully to keep him from leaving. Sadler initially told police some people “jumped” him, but later said he “just wanted revenge,” Meaney said.
However, defense attorney Brian Carmody told jurors Sadler lost his money in the game but won it back, prompting others including Grier to beat and rob Sadler.
Carmody said Grier took money from Sadler’s pockets and there was a struggle before Sadler hit Grier with the machete. The Westbury lawyer said friends of the victim then came after Sadler.
Carmody told jurors in his opening statement that there are special provisions in the law that apply to use of force by a person who believes they are being robbed.
“I’m very grateful that they acquitted him of the murder, and David’s very happy,” Carmody said Friday.
“God is good. Could’ve been worse,” Sadler said of the verdict as authorities led him to a jail bus in handcuffs. Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement she hoped the verdict gave Grier’s family “some measure of comfort” after the teenager’s “senseless killing.”