Three people charged in connection with the April strangulation of a Hempstead man, killed the victim because they believed he had stolen their PlayStation console, a Suffolk prosecutor said Wednesday.
Joshua Nickens, 25, his girlfriend Dequanna Bates, 24, and his stepfather Larry Dennis, 47, all of Hoffman Avenue in Bellport, were arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in the April strangulation death of Alan Moore, 23.
All three entered pleas of not guilty at their arraignments Wednesday in First District Court in Central Islip before Judge Gaetan Lozito. The judge ordered the trio held without bail or bond.
Suffolk police at the time said a man searching for a place to get warm April 1 in Wyandanch entered a boarded-up one-story home on Long Island Avenue and found Moore’s body.
In court Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kearon said Nickens began plotting an attack on Moore earlier in the year after he suspected Moore stole the PlayStation console. Moore was lured from his home after Bates promised to “hang out with him,” Kearon said.
Instead, Nickens forced Moore into a car at gunpoint and drove to the Wyandanch home where Bates, Dennis, and Nickens beat, pistol-whipped and strangled him, Kearon said.
The defendants then removed Moore’s clothes and left his body in the home, Kearon said.
In videotaped interviews with Suffolk police homicide detectives, the three confessed to the killing, Kearon said, and bloodstain samples found in Bates’ car matched Moore’s DNA.
Nickens never admitted he killed Moore, his attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, said in court.
“My client did not confess to any murder or confess to any crime,” Gross said.
Bates’ attorney, Brendan M. Ahern, also questioned Kearon’s assertion that his client had confessed to the killing.
“I have received no evidence of her alleged role,” Ahern said. “I will carefully review the evidence when it is produced by the district attorney.”
Dennis’ attorney Phil Murphy declined to comment, saying it was too early in the case to discuss the evidence.
“My client has never been arrested before for any crime,” Murphy said.
Kearon said the evidence, which she characterized as “strong,” will be presented to a grand jury Thursday, and the second-degree murder charges could be upgraded to first-degree murder.
Bates, Dennis, and Nickens are scheduled to return to court Friday.
With Lisa Irizarry