Judge: Conroy cannot testify another teen stabbed Lucero

Christopher Overton appears in court in Riverhead on

Christopher Overton appears in court in Riverhead on Jan. 28, 2009. Photo Credit: AP

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Saying all evidence presented so far points to Jeffrey Conroy as the person who fatally stabbed Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero, a state Supreme Court justice in Riverhead said Wednesday he would not allow Conroy to pin Lucero's death on another teen charged in the case.

Conroy's murder and manslaughter trial was abruptly adjourned Wednesday afternoon after extended discussions between the judge and attorneys in the judge's chambers regarding whether Conroy would take the stand.

Conroy's attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, wanted Conroy to testify in his own defense Wednesday afternoon, but only under certain conditions, Justice Robert W. Doyle told a hushed courtroom at about 2:30 p.m.

Among those conditions was that Conroy would be allowed to testify that another teen, Christopher Overton, had stabbed Lucero and then handed the knife to Conroy as they fled the scene.

In a 15-minute explication without the jury present, Doyle denied the motion, saying evidence previously admitted during four weeks of testimony did not support the assertion that Overton stabbed Lucero.

"There is no other evidence in this case that supports this version" of Lucero's death, Doyle announced from the bench. "On the contrary, all of the physical evidence and oral statements point to the defendant as the one who stabbed the victim."

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The adjournment was announced shortly after 3 p.m. The trial was scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead.

Conroy, 19, is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, as hate crimes, in Lucero's death on Nov. 8, 2008, near the Patchogue train station. Conroy has pleaded not guilty.

According to what Doyle said in court, Conroy's testimony would have implicated Overton, 17, of East Patchogue, in the stabbing itself. Overton has pleaded not guilty to first-degree gang assault and other charges in the Lucero case and is awaiting trial.

Doyle, Keahon and prosecutor Megan O'Donnell had huddled in the judge's chambers much of the morning and early afternoon.