Testimony: Murder suspect was fidgety, changed story

Mandy Jo Jenkins is seen in a handout

Mandy Jo Jenkins is seen in a handout photo. Her boyfriend, Joseph DeFelice, is charged with murder. (Credit: Handout)

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The North Amityville man who called police to say his girlfriend was shot and taken away from the Halloween products warehouse where they lived was fidgety, excitable and had a shifting story, police officers testified Wednesday in Suffolk County Court.

Joseph DeFelice, 34, told officers that masked men came to the Halloween Scene warehouse in North Amityville at about 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 23, 2010. He said one of them was his friend David Newbeck, 36, of Massapequa, and that he went inside while the other man kept him outside at gunpoint, Suffolk Officer Jason Petzold said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Ray Varuolo.

Petzold and two other officers said DeFelice identified the couch where Newbeck shot Mandy Jo Jenkins. The officers weren't asked how DeFelice knew where Jenkins was shot if he was outside at the time. DeFelice and Newbeck were later charged with second-degree murder after authorities said they acted together to kill Jenkins. Newbeck will be tried later.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said in his opening statement that Newbeck wanted Jenkins dead because she filed identity-theft charges against his girlfriend, Jennifer Russini, and that DeFelice helped him.

Petzold testified that while he examined the couch, DeFelice kept talking.

"He kept going back and forth with the story and changing it around," Petzold said. In some versions, the second masked man was holding him at gunpoint and in others, Newbeck just ordered him outside.

Petzold said he noticed bloodstains on the couch, which was missing some cushions, and saw a clump of still-wet blood low on the frame. Jurors saw pictures of the bloodstains in the crowded, makeshift bedroom, which featured a skull decal on the wall behind the television.

Petzold said he asked DeFelice why he waited more than two hours to call 911 after the shooting. "He said he didn't have a cellphone, but we knew he had one because he had it when we pulled up," Petzold said.

Petzold said when he asked DeFelice for identification, he emptied his pockets of various papers, including two parking tickets from the Jersey Shore. DeFelice said he was partying there during the weekend with Newbeck and Russini.

Biancavilla told jurors that one way DeFelice helped Newbeck was by taking his Rottweiler out of the apartment before letting Newbeck in. But during cross-examination by defense attorney Richard Stafford of Bohemia, Petzold and the other officers said they didn't see or hear a dog at the warehouse.

Stafford also asked Petzold if DeFelice was upset about the shooting, in addition to being nervous. "Upset?" Petzold said. "That's the one thing I didn't see in him."

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