Teen: I saw Jeffrey Conroy holding knife

Witness Nicholas Hausch is brought in to testify

Witness Nicholas Hausch is brought in to testify against murder suspect Jeffrey Conroy at Riverhead court. (March 29, 2010) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Speaking calmly as Jeffrey Conroy sat only a few feet away, one of four teenagers who admitted involvement in the death of Marcelo Lucero took the witness stand in Riverhead on Monday and described two nights of attacks on Hispanic men in Patchogue and Medford in November 2008.

Nicholas Hausch, 19, of Medford, said Conroy admitted he stabbed Lucero on the second of those two nights during a spree of attacks on Latinos.

He said he and Conroy, also 19 and from Medford, fled after a confrontation with Lucero near the Patchogue train station on Nov. 8, 2008.

"He told me he stabbed him," Hausch testified in a Riverhead courtroom. He said he saw Conroy holding a bloodstained knife.

"We were telling him to throw it," Hausch said. "He said he washed it off in a puddle.

"Someone said, 'Imagine if we get away with this.' I said we wouldn't."

Hausch's testimony Monday came after he pleaded guilty in November to first-degree gang assault and fourth-degree conspiracy. He also pleaded guilty to second-degree assault as a hate crime and second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime in connection with two other attacks earlier on Nov. 8, 2008.

Under questioning from Conroy's attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, Hausch said he did not see the stabbing.

Pressed by Keahon about his guilty plea, Hausch said he did not participate in assaults on Angel Loja and Hector Sierra before the attack on Lucero - even though the Loja and Sierra incidents were included in the plea.

"Were you guilty of that crime?" Keahon asked Hausch of the Loja attack.

After a long pause, Hausch said, "No ... I'm not guilty."

Referring to the earlier assault on Sierra, Keahon asked, "You did not have to plead guilty to that crime?"

"No," Hausch said after another pause.

When Keahon asked why he pleaded guilty, Hausch said, "I don't know."

As part of his plea, Hausch agreed to continue to cooperate with authorities, including possibly testifying at the trials of his co-defendants.

Prosecutors did not recommend a sentence, and Hausch - who has been out on bail - won't be sentenced until prosecution of the other six defendants is complete. Hausch faces 5 to 25 years in prison on the top charge.

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