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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Chilling day of testimony as Darrell Fuller murder trial begins

Darrell Fuller arrives at the Nassau County Court

Darrell Fuller arrives at the Nassau County Court in Mineola on June 9, 2014. Fuller, 34, of St. Albans, Queens, is facing life in prison without parole if found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of a Nassau County police Officer Arthur Lopez and another man. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Darrell Fuller, who went on trial in Mineola yesterday in the deaths of a Nassau police officer and an immigrant father, at one point sought refuge in a preschool after the killings.

"He didn't seem to have any interest in the children," Assistant District Attorney Mitchell Benson quoted a preschool worker as describing Fuller's actions on Oct. 23, 2012. "He stayed on his telephone near a window, walking back and forth."

Fuller by that time had a very busy morning working to stay one step ahead of police.

Early on, Fuller fled the scene of a car accident. He jumped from his still-running Honda near the Cross Island Parkway, Benson said, so he could wait for Officer Arthur Lopez, who, with his partner, had pursued Fuller from the time of the accident.

Lopez, had a choice of an assault weapon or his sidearm when he left the Emergency Service Unit truck and approached Fuller.

The officer chose to arm himself with a yellow Taser. "For his humanity and restraint, Darrell Fuller paid him back with a bullet to the heart," Benson said.

Lopez, fatally wounded, staggered back to his vehicle, telling his partner, "I'm shot."

By then, Fuller already had returned to the driver's seat of his Honda, driving off -- on three tires and one rim -- to seek other transportation.

Dahlia Kong was on the phone with her father, Raymond Facey, when Fuller pulled up behind his car.

Facey, a construction worker and immigrant from Jamaica, had pulled his Toyota Camry to the side of the road so he could read Kong a credit-card number to purchase tickets for a family trip to Jamaica.

"Is someone chasing you?" Kong, sitting at her computer logged on to a travel site to make the purchase, heard her father say. "Who is chasing you?"

Then, Kong testified, she heard nothing else.

Facey turned his head to the side before being shot twice. Kong later would identify his body at the Nassau County medical examiner's office.

Fuller took Facey's car and drove to a neighborhood he knew well, Benson said. Even then, Fuller kept working on an escape. He hid at the preschool -- which a relative and the child of his girlfriend attended -- until a friend could get close enough to pick him up.

At one point, Fuller, in an attempt to disguise himself, tossed his gray sweatshirt into a yard before switching to a green hoodie, which he pulled around his head.

In a neighborhood now swarming with police, Fuller ultimately decided that victimhood could be his way out, Benson said. And he was willing to take two shots from the same gun that killed Lopez and Facey to make that plan work, according to prosecutors.

But compared to Lopez, who had been struck almost point blank in the heart, and Facey, struck twice, almost point blank in the head, Fuller's wounds turned out to be superficial. Prosecutors said Monday he asked a friend to shoot him.

Benson's opening statement in the trial Monday, which promised jurors multiple witnesses, along with audio and surveillance camera video to prove his case, was hard to hear.

At one point, as Benson described Lopez's last moments, sobs could be heard from the officer's family. At another, the judge asked that members of Facey's family, who broke into heart-wrenching cries, take time out of the courtroom.

Through it all, at the defendant's table, with two court officers close behind him, Fuller sat still. Sometimes, he seemed to glance toward the jurors.

Some of them were weeping too.

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