A 19-year-old Copiague taxi driver just wanted to make a little money when he answered his last call one December evening in 2010, a Suffolk prosecutor told jurors Monday.
Unfortunately for driver Juan Rosario, the man who called for a taxi wanted the same thing and was willing to kill for it, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said during his opening statement in the trial of Barry Yorke, 20, of Copiague. He is charged with second-degree murder.
Pointing at the defendant, Kurtzrock said, "That man, Barry Yorke, murdered him in cold blood with absolutely no provocation and absolutely no reason, other than he wanted a little money."
Kurtzrock said Yorke fired two shots. One shattered the cab's windshield. The other went through Rosario's skull Kurtzrock said.
Defense attorney Daniel Russo of Westhampton Beach told jurors and state Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro that it's not clear that Yorke is the killer. He said the prosecution case against Yorke is based solely on the word of criminals who sold their stories for leniency in their own cases.
"You can't convict just on speculation," Russo told jurors, adding there is no other evidence that Yorke committed the crime. "These men bought themselves pretty sweet deals. . . . Life to them means nothing."
Phyllis Fisher, the Copiague woman who found the cab and Rosario in front of her house on 42nd Street, said she was annoyed at first to find it parked in front of the walkway to her front door. She looked at it more carefully when she got back from walking her dog.
"That's when I saw there was an occupant in the car, leaning on the driver's door," she said. "He was asleep, I thought."
Jurors listened to a recording of her 911 call.
"I just want to know he's OK, or won't bring me harm after I go to bed," she told the operator on the recording.
Taxi company owner Ceasar Furman testified he went looking for Rosario, who had been driving for him only a couple of weeks, when he didn't call in after going to 42nd Street. He was dismayed by what he found.
"It was a horrible scene," he said. "The windows were broken. It was a real mess."