Bridgehampton man pleads not guilty in Christmas slaying
A Bridgehampton man accused in an execution-style shooting on Christmas Day in Medford pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Saturday.
Brandon Davis, 19, was arrested Friday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Taleik Bristel, 19, of Patchogue, who was shot in the back of the head at Whitestar MTR, an auto repair and restoration shop, on Christmas morning.
In a phone interview Saturday, Bristel's mother, Mattie Ulusoy, 39, of Coram, whose son was adopted by her sister Danielle Dowdy-Spencer, applauded the arrest. "It was a great birthday present for me on Friday. Hopefully, they will get the maximum sentence."
Davis was remanded without bail. He is due back in court on Thursday. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, authorities said.
"This is probably the most serious charge someone can have against him," Judge G. Ann Spelman said during the arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip.
Davis' family members in court declined to comment.
"He didn't do it," Davis' attorney, Paul Barahal of Smithtown, said after the hearing. "He didn't know anything about it. He wasn't there."
According to the prosecutor and court records, Davis was armed with a handgun when he went into the shop on Cedarhurst Avenue about 3:20 a.m. on Dec. 25 with co-defendants Cesar Figueroa of Bellport and Tasheem Carter of Ridge, both 19. Four people were shot after the group demanded money and marijuana, court records indicate.
Bristel was pronounced dead at the scene. Two men were shot in the back, and a woman was shot in the abdomen, police said. The victims were "all social acquaintances," police have said.
One of the victims, shop-owner John Thomas Valles, 34, disputed that drugs were involved.
"There was nothing with drugs," Valles said Saturday in a phone interview. "There were absolutely no words. They just came in and started shooting."
Figueroa allegedly confessed that he and Davis robbed a man called "Whitey" and said Davis shot and killed Bristel, according to the felony complaint. Carter allegedly also admitted going to the shop to rob "Whitey" of his marijuana and witnessing the fatal shooting, court records show.
Figueroa was arrested Jan. 22 and is due back in court April 10. Carter was arrested Feb. 27 and is due back in court Tuesday. Both were charged with second-degree murder.
"I want justice to be served," Bristel's aunt Martha Davenport, 38, of Patchogue, said in a phone interview. Her nephew graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 2012 and wanted to go to mechanics school, she said.