Prosecutors have "strong" evidence against a man accused of slaying a Jericho gas station worker and terrorizing others in a spree of 10 robberies, including statements he made incriminating himself in the killing and some of the holdups, authorities said Wednesday.
But Joshua Golson-Orelus, 23, of New Cassel, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Nassau County Court on a 17-count indictment. It included charges of first- and second-degree murder and multiple robbery, attempted robbery and weapon counts.
Acting Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said at a news conference that the defendant carried out six store robberies before he fatally shot "an innocent employee who was simply doing his job working at his brother's gas station," during an attempted robbery. She also alleged that the crime spree, which lasted about six months and netted about $11,000, continued after the Jan. 28 slaying of Hany Awad, 56, of Levittown. Authorities said he died of a gunshot wound behind the counter of his brother's BP station.
"Though this defendant had already taken a life, his greed-driven reign of terror was still ongoing," Singas said.
Prosecutors claim the one-man crime wave stretched from December until June and took place at gas stations or convenience stores in Jericho, Westbury, Hicksville and East Meadow, with two locations targeted twice.
Nassau Police Chief of Department Steven Skrynecki called the events "one of the most egregious crime sprees in recent Nassau County history." Authorities alleged that the defendant wore the same clothes and even carried the same bag in some of the crimes.
Skrynecki said the case was difficult to investigate despite video because the suspect wore a mask and usually gloves. Police did stakeouts, increased patrols and used GPS technology in a case considered a top priority for months.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Walsh asked Judge Helene Gugerty to continue the defendant's jail detention without bail, saying he faced up to life in prison without parole.
"There's a tremendous motivation to flee," he said.
Walsh also told the judge Golson-Orelus, who remains jailed without bail, incriminated himself in the homicide and in some of the robberies.
Police arrested the defendant in Utica on June 17, after a June 14 robbery at a Westbury gas station. Authorities said that crime led to a break in the case when an officer got a look at a driver of a vehicle that sped away from the scene and noted the license plate. Police also have said that they had put a GPS tracking device in with the gas station's money.
Defense attorney Fred Pollack told the judge his client had not fled from police, but had gone upstate to visit his children. The Mineola attorney also said he might request bail in the future.
The defendant's family declined to comment.