Judge: Triple-murder trial will miss deadline
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A note from a member of one of the two juries hearing a triple-murder trial in Suffolk County Court prompted the judge and attorneys to admit the obvious Wednesday: There's no way the case will be done by April 15 as promised.
After five weeks of jury selection followed by five weeks of testimony, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla finished presenting his 13th witness in the trial of Hasan Vaughan and Thomas Singletary. He said he has 37 more to go.
The defendants, both 36 and of Central Islip, are charged with first-degree murder and arson. They are accused of stabbing, strangling and shooting Louis Calixto Jr., 19; his friend Mykier Daniels, 28; and her sister, Katrice Daniels, 31, before setting the house on fire.
Each defendant has his own jury because their defenses may implicate each other.
After a juror on Vaughn's panel asked about the schedule, Judge James Hudson huddled at the bench with Biancavilla and defense attorneys William Keahon and Daniel Russo.
"I think we need to be honest with the juries," Hudson told them. "We're not going to make the April 15 deadline. Will we be done by the end of the month?"
After an awkward pause, Keahon said, "He's got 37 witnesses left."
Hudson and the attorneys have been frustrated with the difficulties of moving into the same courtroom two defendants who have to be kept separate from each other and two juries that have to be kept apart. Because of daily delays doing that, the trial has never started close to on time.
In a note to Hudson, one juror asked if he'd be able to fulfill work commitments and take a planned vacation in May.
After thanking jurors for sacrificing "months of your time so far," Hudson told them the trial was now expected to end in mid-May.
One juror gasped loudly, and another shook her head. Hudson told jurors to let him know if they couldn't continue.