Threats to cop-killer witness

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A witness in the case of the murder of two undercover officers on Staten Island in 2003 has received death threats, federal prosecutors disclosed yesterday.

Officials wouldn't reveal the identity of the witness but said it was someone being held at a federal detention center in Manhattan.

Revelations about the alleged threat came during a pretrial hearing in the case of Ronell Wilson, who faces the death penalty in the killings of officers Rodney Andrews, 34, and James Nemorim, 36. Both men were shot in the back of the head on March 10, 2003 while they were trying to make an undercover gun purchase in a car.

Wilson is reputedly a member of the Stapleton Crew, a street gang named after a section of Staten Island. He is slated to go on trial in September for racketeering and racketeering murder.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Kavanagh disclosed to Judge Nicholas Garaufis that the threat against the witness was being investigated. She also said that another cooperating witness was reportedly attacked and injured at the federal jail in Brooklyn by some of Wilson's former co-defendants in the same case. Kavanagh said the witness, who wasn't identified, received eight stitches as a result of the injuries in the assault.

The alleged assaults and death threats all occurred within the last few weeks, authorities said.

Garaufis noted that there wasn't necessarily any connection being made between the Brooklyn incident and Wilson's case. The trial of Wilson had been severed earlier this year from that of a number of his co-defendants, reputed members of the same gang.

Last week Garaufis ruled that a special hearing should be held to look into allegations of impropriety in a police lineup involving Wilson. The hearing is expected to take place next month.

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