Murder suspect gets 12 years in gun case

Barry Yorke is charged with fatally shooting a Barry Yorke is charged with fatally shooting a Copiague taxi driver in December 2010. Photo Credit: SCPD

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A Copiague man whose murder trial ended in a hung jury last fall was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison for dealing guns.

Barry Yorke, 20, is charged with shooting taxi driver Juan Rosario, 19, to death during a robbery on Dec. 12, 2010. A jury could not reach a verdict after his trial in October. That case 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. More than half the jurors didn't believe those men were credible.

But before Yorke was charged with second-degree murder, he was arrested and charged with third-degree criminal sale of a firearm and third-degree criminal possession of a firearm. After the hung jury in the murder case, he went to trial on those charges and was convicted.

Defense attorney Daniel Russo of Westhampton Beach told state Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro that he would have negotiated a plea on these charges but couldn't, in case anything his client said could be used against him at a second murder trial.

"This young man should not be punished simply because at the time he was unable to engage in plea negotiations," Russo said. "I would ask the court to show some leniency. No one was hurt by these cases."

Ambro disagreed. He noted that Yorke was caught on video and audio recordings selling guns to and trying to buy guns with undercover police officers.

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"I don't see selling firearms as a case where no one got hurt, Mr. Russo," Ambro said. "Guns are a plague on this country and on this county."

Assistant District Attorney Rob Barry had asked for the maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.

Yorke said nothing in court. He is due back May 2 on both the murder case and an unrelated narcotics 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 roughly $100 he had earned that day was gone. He had been driving the cab for two weeks.

Jurors said afterward there wasn't enough evidence showing the calls to the cab company came from Yorke.

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