Mistrial in Copiague taxi driver slay case
After seven days of deliberating, a Suffolk jury could not decide whether a Copiague man was guilty of killing a taxi driver during a robbery, leading the judge to declare a mistrial Monday.
Barry Yorke, 20, is charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 12, 2010, shooting of Juan Rosario, 19. The case against Yorke relied heavily on the testimony of three men with lengthy criminal records, two of whom cut deals with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony that Yorke had confessed to them.
The hung jury, split 7-5 for acquittal, left everyone associated with the trial frustrated and disappointed. One juror cried briefly when State Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro ended the case after the jury's fifth note saying it was making no progress toward a verdict.
"We have argued from day one that he was not the killer," said defense attorney Daniel Russo of Westhampton Beach. "We look forward to a retrial and proving his innocence."
After glumly discussing the mistrial with Rosario's family members, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock vowed to make a stronger presentation next time.
Yorke also faces separate gun possession and drug charges. Kurtzrock said his office may decide to pursue those cases before revisiting the murder charge.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed that some of the jury members felt we didn't present enough evidence," he said. "Mostly, I feel bad that we weren't able to give the family of the victim resolution in this case."
Rosario was shot once in the head on 42nd Street in Copiague after his cab company got two calls asking for a ride from there. The approximately $100 he had earned that day was gone. He had been driving the cab for two weeks.
Other than the three witnesses who claimed Yorke had confessed, the other key evidence in the case was the murder weapon and the calls to the taxi company. Police acquired the Hi-Point 9 mm pistol when Yorke's stepbrother, Randy Roland, sold it to a confidential informant.
Jurors later said they were deadlocked from the first day of deliberations. Many of the jurors -- even ones who favored a guilty verdict -- said there wasn't enough evidence showing the phone calls to the cab company came from Yorke.
Phone records showed one call came from a phone owned by one of the witnesses against Yorke and the other was registered to the mother of Yorke and Roland. A detective testified that phone was Yorke's, but didn't say how he knew.