Jurors continue deliberations in Conroy murder trial
GalleriesJeffrey Conroy hate-crime case
BY CARL MACGOWAN
AND KATHLEEN KERR
Jurors in the murder and manslaughter trial of Jeffrey Conroy deliberated until nearly 10:30 p.m. Friday after hearing legal definitions, viewing evidence and hearing readbacks of testimony concerning the fatal stabbing of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero.
Friday night, the panel heard more than two hours worth of testimony given by Suffolk police Det. John McLeer, the lead investigator in the case, when he was cross-examined by defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge. They returned to the jury room at 9:55 p.m.
Keahon, during several hours of questioning the detective on April 5 and 6, tried to cast doubt on portions of the statement McLeer had taken from Conroy in the hours after Lucero and a friend were set upon by a group of teenagers near the Patchogue train station on Nov. 8, 2008.
During the three days of deliberations, the jury twice asked specifically to see Conroy's statement, in which he said he had stabbed Lucero.
The readback of McLeer's testimony began just before 6 p.m. The seven-man, five-woman jury broke for dinner - eating food from a local pizzeria - and then returned to the courtroom.
The court reporter still was reading McLeer's testimony at 9:30 p.m. - a half-hour past the time State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle earlier had told attorneys he wanted to end the day's deliberations.
At that time, members of the Lucero family and some of their supporters left the third-floor courtroom and spoke to reporters in the hallway. The Rev. Allan Ramirez, an adviser to the family, and Fernando Mateo, another spokesman, questioned Doyle's decision to have the jurors continue deliberations so late into the night.
"There were moments during the readback testimony when Mrs. Lucero felt such an intense emotion of pain that she was ready to walk out," said Ramirez, pastor of Brookville Reformed Church in Brookville. "She cannot continue to go through this kind of intense agony."
Mateo said the family was "very concerned about the 12 hours the jurors have been here deliberating."
"We believe that most of them are falling asleep," Mateo said. "We believe that what's going on is not right. We believe that, in this case, keeping the jury here . . . is inhumane."
Deliberations will resume 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Conroy, 19, of Medford, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter as hate crimes in Lucero's death. He is charged with first-degree gang assault and fourth-degree conspiracy in connection with the attack on Lucero.
Conroy, who took the stand in his own defense, testified that another teen, Christopher Overton, 17, of East Patchogue, told him he stabbed Lucero. He also rejected the statement he had given McLeer.