A jury convicted a North Amityville man Thursday of taking part in a shooting that left one man dead and two seriously wounded, emphatically rejecting defense claims that Suffolk police fabricated witness statements in the case.
The jury deliberated about 31/2 hours before finding Shawn Lawrence, 42, guilty of the January 2010 murder of James Terry and the attempted murders of David Hodges and Ralph Council Jr.
The mother of Terry's children, Angela Wilson of Wyandanch, sobbed in relief as she heard the word "guilty."StoryJury to determine murder case's fateStoryWitness in murder trial: Cops forged signatureStoryKiller: LIer wasn't part of fatal shooting
She said later that she never doubted Lawrence would be convicted, because "I believe in God."
Lawrence, who entered the Riverhead courtroom smiling and holding a Bible to hear the verdict, appeared shocked and upset by the result.
He was convicted of second-degree murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
He faces a maximum of 40 years to life in prison when state Supreme Court Justice William Condon sentences him June 22.
"I think the verdict vindicates that there was no police misconduct at all," Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said. "There was absolutely no evidence of that, because it clearly didn't happen."
The case against Lawrence relied largely on the testimony of two eyewitnesses, Council and James Jones. Both men had earlier told police they didn't know any of the shooters, but eventually identified Lawrence to the police and at trial.
"It showed the witnesses were telling the truth, despite the threats to themselves," Kurtzrock said.
Defense witness Tariq Burwell testified that a police statement identifying Lawrence with his name on it was a forgery. And co-defendant Allen McGhee, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year and is serving 12 years in prison, disavowed his earlier identification of Lawrence as an accomplice.
Defense attorney Joseph Hanshe of Sayville promised an appeal.
"It's clearly against the weight of the evidence in the case," he said, noting that surveillance video of the crime showed four assailants of roughly the same height. Lawrence is almost a foot taller than McGhee.
But jurors said that Kurtzrock's closing argument convinced them the video was too blurry to judge the attackers' heights, particularly when one clip he showed seemed to show one of the men who ran from the shooting was taller.
Others said the prosecution eyewitnesses' accounts meshed with each other, and their accounts of why their stories changed -- fear of retaliation in a violent neighborhood -- made sense to them.