A Staten Island man accused of a fatal shooting in a botched drug deal was indicted on additional crimes while a murder charge was dropped for one of his accomplices, the Nassau County District Attorney's office said Monday.
Brandon Torres, 22, pleaded not guilty at arraignment Friday on two new charges, second-degree robbery and a second count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and the initial weapons possession charge, authorities said.
The indictment dropped second-degree murder and criminal weapon possession charges against Kion Carter, 25, of Middle Island, but allowed a first-degree robbery charge to remain and added a second-degree robbery charge, officials said. He was arraigned on the indictment Monday, prosecutors said.
The two men went with three other "lookout" accomplices to Haypath Park in Old Bethpage on the night of July 6 to rob a man who came to the park under the impression he was going to sell marijuana to Carter, prosecutors said.
The group was afraid the drug seller would have friends with him, so Stefon Pierre, 23, who was one of the lookouts, hid, and when Pierre walked up during the robbery in the dark, Torres shot him by mistake in the stomach, thinking he was a friend of the dealer, Nassau police had said.
The group took Pierre to the Plainview Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.
Torres' attorney Jeff Groder of Mineola, said his client looks forward to his day in court. "We were given a great deal of material to review, and I've started to go through that," Groder said.
Carter's attorney did not immediately return requests for comment.
The other two in the group, Patricia Quilliam, 19, of Greenlawn, and Charles Spinella, 17, of Kings Park, were arraigned late last month on indictment charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree robbery, a new charge. The indictment dropped criminal possession of a weapon charges against them, authorities said.
Public officials, including Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, characterized the shooting as an aberration at the park as they sought last month to calm fears of nearby residents during a public meeting. Ryder said he would conduct a safety assessment of each county and local park.