Slain woman had become inconvenience, prosecutor tells jurors

Joseph DeFelice, 34, of North Amityville, was sentenced to the maxium 25 years to life in prison for arranging the murder of his girlfriend as a favor to one of his drug-dealing friends. Videojournalist: Jim Carbone and News 12 LI(Nov. 14, 2013)

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The second of two men charged with executing a North Amityville woman went on trial Tuesday in Suffolk County Court, as a prosecutor explained to jurors that she got four bullets in the head and one in the chest because she had become an inconvenience to the men.

Mandy Jo Jenkins, 30, was killed as she slept in her boyfriend's apartment in a Halloween products warehouse on Aug. 23, 2010. The boyfriend, Joseph DeFelice, 34, was convicted in September of second-degree murder for setting her up to be killed by his friend, David Newbeck, 36, of Massapequa. Now Newbeck is on trial on murder and related charges before Judge John Toomey Jr. in Riverhead.

"They acted together because Mandy Jo had become a liability to them," Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said in his opening statement. She had filed a criminal complaint against Newbeck's girlfriend, Jennifer Russini, for identity theft.

"David Newbeck and Joseph DeFelice eliminated the problem," Biancavilla said. "They did so by shooting her five times as she lay sleeping on the couch."

Defense attorney William Keahon, however, warned jurors that much of the case against his client relies on untrustworthy criminals who got deals from the district attorney's office that absolved them of past crimes and allowed them to commit new ones.

"The power to say, 'You are blessed, you're OK, you can go out and do whatever you want,' -- that's a lot of power," Keahon said, miming a priest giving the sign of the cross. "Let's take a deep breath and wait and see what these witnesses have to say when I question them. . . . The credibility of witnesses is what this case is about."

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After the shooting, Biancavilla said, Newbeck wrapped the body in two tarps and dumped it at the end of Frank Street in Lindenhurst. Meanwhile, DeFelice called a friend of both men and asked him to come to the warehouse, Biancavilla said.

When the friend got there, Jenkins was gone, but he saw blood on the bedroom wall, Biancavilla said. "He sees Joe's dog licking a bloodstain on the carpet," Biancavilla said. The friend told DeFelice to call the police.

After talking to DeFelice, police found Newbeck, but he led them on high-speed chase and escaped, Biancavilla said.

"He and Miss Russini fled from Suffolk County," he said. "They fled in such haste that Miss Russini left her 8-year-old son behind."

Police later found that Newbeck had bragged to at least eight people that he'd killed Jenkins, Biancavilla said. He told one person they'd never find the body, but a friend of his tipped off police that he was about to move it, and police found it in October 2010.

Newbeck escaped again, but police soon found him in Texas, about to board a plane to Ecuador, Biancavilla said.

In addition to the people he bragged to, Biancavilla told jurors they will hear about cellphone records tracking Newbeck's movements the day of the killing. They'll also see surveillance video that will support witness testimony, he said.

Testimony began with the first officer on the scene, Jason Petzold, who testified about coming to the warehouse after DeFelice called 911. He testified that during an inspection of the bedroom, he saw blood spatter on the wall behind a couch and clumps of blood beneath it. In addition, a portion of the carpet appeared to have been cleaned with bleach, he said.

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