The patriarch of a family charged with kidnapping and strangling a Hempstead man over a stolen PlayStation pleaded not guilty Friday in Riverhead to an indictment charging him with second-degree murder.
The attorney for Larry Dennis, 48, of Bellport, told Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow, "I believe there will be a resolution of this case without the necessity of a trial." Braslow ordered Dennis held without bail.
Defense attorney Phil Murphy of Bay Shore said later that his client did what he did because his co-defendants took advantage of him.
"This guy is very easily manipulated," Murphy said of Dennis. "He's a really nice person, but somewhat slow."
Also charged in the March 27, 2017, killing of Alan Moore, 23, are Dennis' wife, Sunetta Dennis, 42; his stepson, Joshua Nickens, 26; and Nickens' then-girlfriend, Dequanna Bates, 25. Sunetta Dennis was arrested Tuesday night and pleaded not guilty Wednesday.
Larry Dennis was arrested last year with Nickens and Bates, who both pleaded not guilty.
Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kearon has said Sunetta Dennis was the prime mover behind the attack on Moore, who lived at times with the Dennis family. When Sunetta Dennis believed Moore had made off with the PlayStation, Kearon said, she enlisted Nickens and Bates to find him and bring him to her.
According to Murphy, Nickens in turn brought Larry Dennis, a large man, along as muscle. Before picking up Moore, Nickens told Dennis to take a walk for 10 minutes so that Bates could lure Moore into their sport utility vehicle, Murphy said.
After Moore was in the vehicle, Murphy said, Nickens picked up Dennis and told him to hold a shotgun on Moore. He did it without questioning Nickens, Murphy said.
"My guy is very simplistic," Murphy said. "He's not a sophisticated individual."
Kearon has said that Sunetta Dennis ordered Moore taken to an abandoned house in Wyandanch. Kearon said Sunetta Dennis was not at the house, but she ordered Nickens to beat and ultimately strangle Moore.
"My guy stayed in the car" while this was taking place, Murphy said. "He didn't know what they were doing in the house."
Kearon declined to comment Friday.
Moore's body was found at the house a few days later by a homeless man seeking to get out of the cold.