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FREEPORT/Queens man found guilty of murder during robbery

A Queens man faces 25 years to life in prison after a Nassau jury convicted him in the 2011 slaying of a robbery victim outside an abandoned Freeport house, prosecutors said Friday.

It took the jury two days to convict Jerod Plowden, 25, of St. Albans, of second-degree murder and multiple robbery charges, the Nassau County district attorney's office said in a news release.

On the afternoon of April 12, Plowden and another man, Nolan Gaugler, 21, of Mineola, met with victim Moez Hassan, 23, of Queens, outside an abandoned Stevens Street home "under the auspices of buying Xanax pills from him," District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a news release.

At gunpoint, Plowden and Gaugler robbed Hassan of 75 Xanax pills and about $30, and the victim "was then shot five times, once in the head, chest, and left arm, and twice in the abdomen," prosecutors said.

Nassau police officers, responding to the department's ShotSpotter gunshot detection system, caught Gaugler, "still in possession of the stolen drugs and cash," several blocks away, prosecutors said.

Plowden was arrested 16 days later in Suffolk County. He was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over in a traffic stop.

Gaugler has since pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery "in exchange for a promised prison sentence of 16 years," prosecutors said.

Michael DerGarabedian, Plowden's defense attorney, emphasized that the jury acquitted his client of a weapons charge. He added that the second-degree murder conviction was for aiding and abetting.

"Mr. Plowden was happy that the jury found the gun was not in his hand and that he was not the shooter," DerGarabedian said.

In convicting Plowden, "the jury rejected the defense's claim that Gaugler acted alone," prosecutors said.

Plowden is scheduled for sentencing June 6.

-- ELLEN YAN


East Norwich/Lone occupant safely escapes from house fire

A fire burned much of an East Norwich home yesterday, but no one was hurt, Nassau police said.

Arson detectives are investigating the blaze that started about 1 p.m. at the Gabriele Drive residence, police said. A person was inside the house at the time but escaped, police said. No other details were immediately available yesterday afternoon.

-- ELLEN YAN

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