A state appeals court has ordered a new trial for a Medford teen convicted of shooting a man to death in 2007 during a robbery at an East Patchogue home.
In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court said a trial judge erred when he allowed a prosecutor to question Teraine Slide about his prior arrests at Slide's 2008 trial for the slaying of Carlton Shaw, 38.
Slide, now 19, was convicted in August 2008 of second-degree murder, as well as burglary and weapons possession charges, in connection with Shaw's death. He is serving a sentence of 25 years to life at an upstate prison.
The appeals court's decision stunned Shaw's wife, Griselda Amaya, 45, of East Patchogue.
"He did it, he did it," she said of Slide. "I'm upset, I'm confused."
At Slide's trial, prosecutors said he was one of five people who attempted to steal money and drugs from Shaw's home on May 7, 2007. When Shaw confronted the men, Slide shot him once in the chest, prosecutors said.
Shaw was found with his then 3-year-old son, Carlton Jr., sleeping on his lifeless body.
Slide's attorney, Jason Bassett of Central Islip, said Monday he was pleased that the appeals court threw out his client's conviction.
"Teraine has always maintained his innocence from day one, and we look forward to getting an opportunity to demonstrate that in front of a new jury," Bassett said.
A spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota said prosecutors had not decided whether to appeal the court's decision.
The appeals court said State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle did not hold a hearing on Slide's prior arrests before Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford questioned Slide on the witness stand about those arrests, for shoplifting and marijuana possession.
The judge "committed error in allowing the people to cross-examine the defendant about those prior bad acts, and thereby deprived the defendant of his right to a fair trial," the appeals court said in its decision, dated Sept. 28.
By law, a prosecutor must first tell a defendant that he or she will be questioned on the stand about previous arrests, the appeals court said.
In addition, Doyle failed to tell jurors that they could discount Slide's confession to police if they believed it was coerced.