Prosecution wraps up Lucero case, goes to jury

Rosario Lucero, center, stands with son Joselo Lucero, Rosario Lucero, center, stands with son Joselo Lucero, left, near the site where her other son Marcelo Lucero was stabbed to death in 2008, in Patchogue, N.Y., after his killer, Jeffrey Conroy, was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime but acquitted of murder. (April 19, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

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One person witnessed the stabbing death of an Ecuadorean immigrant and that witness was the killer, a prosecutor told a Riverhead jury Tuesday.

In a blistering attack on accused murderer Jeffrey Conroy, 19, of Medford, prosecutor Megan O'Donnell said, "The defendant is the stabber, and the defendant did mean it."

In a packed courtroom, O'Donnell referred to statements Conroy gave to police, including a five-page written statement just after the Nov. 8, 2008, slaying of Marcelo Lucero, 37, near the Patchogue railroad station. Conroy stated he stabbed Lucero and he gave officers a knife he had in his waistband. Conroy also told his father and a friend, Nicholas Hausch, who testified against him, that he had stabbed Lucero, she said.

Conroy has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter as hate crimes. The seven-man, five-woman jury considering his fate will begin deliberating Wednesday.

Doing her utmost to pick apart the defense put forth by Conroy's attorney, O'Donnell showed the jury a photo of the 370-foot trail of blood Lucero left as he staggered away from a group of seven teenagers that included Conroy. And she held up the knife with the saw-toothed blade that she said killed Lucero. She scoffed at the notion, put forth Monday by defense attorney William Keahon in his closing argument, that if Conroy did kill Lucero, he did not do it intentionally.

With Lucero's brother and sister looking on, O'Donnell said the victim is the "one person who gives you the truth about what happened that night."

"Marcelo Lucero left for you his DNA, his blood on his shirt he was wearing," O'Donnell said. "And he left it for you on the knife."

On the night Lucero was fatally stabbed, Conroy and six friends set out for an evening's entertainment - deciding to go hunting down Hispanics and beating them, she said.

After the group surrounded Lucero in Patchogue, O'Donnell said, Conroy stabbed him in the chest, cutting an artery and a vein.

Conroy stabbed Lucero, O'Donnell said, because the immigrant broke a rule established by the teenagers - that once a target was attacked, he should not fight back. Lucero fought back, swinging his belt at the pack of teens.

"Marcelo Lucero had the audacity, the nerve to not follow the rules and fight back," O'Donnell said.

"It was not just boys being boys," O'Donnell said. "It was to seriously, viciously and randomly attack another. In one split moment of time, it was to kill."

O'Donnell called Conroy's attempt to blame another teenager he had just met for the killing "offensive." Conroy testified last week that he didn't stab Lucero and said an acquaintance, Christopher Overton of East Patchogue, committed the crime. Conroy said Overton asked him to take his knife because Overton was already in trouble for an unrelated home burglary.

After O'Donnell finished, State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle explained the charges against Conroy to the jury.

He pointed to Keahon's argument that Lucero might not have received adequate emergency medical care. Doyle cautioned the jurors that unless medical or surgical treatment caused Lucero to die, the kind of care he received should not be considered a defense.

O'Donnell, too, had addressed the question of medical care Lucero received after the stabbing. He did not receive an IV, which might have helped increase his falling blood volume.

"Might the IV have helped? We'll never know," O'Donnell told the jury. "What we do know is the defendant set in motion the events that resulted in the death of Marcelo Lucero."

Doyle instructed the jury to return to court Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. to begin deliberating.

 

Instructions to the jury

State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle Tuesday ran through a long list of charges with the jury and instructed them on the law. He told jurors that if they do not reach a guilty verdict on the highest charge against Jeffrey Conroy, 19, they should continue to consider charges in descending order. Here are the six top charges against Conroy, accused of fatally stabbing Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero. Hate crimes are those in which issues such as race, gender or age play a part.

1. Second-degree murder as a hate crime

Maximum sentence: 25 years to life

Minimum sentence: 20 years to life

2. Second-degree murder

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Maximum: 25 to life

Minimum: 15 to life

3. First-degree manslaughter as a hate crime

Maximum: 25 years

Minimum: 8 years

4. First-degree manslaughter

Maximum: 25 years

Minimum: 5 years

5. Second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime

Maximum: 81/3 to 25

Minimum: 6 to 18 years

6. Second-degree manslaughter

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Maximum: 5 to 15 years

Minimum: 1 to 3 years

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