A snowy night in February 2010 began with two guys hanging out in a Central Islip town house, but it ended with the resident dead on his bedroom floor and the other fleeing from the blood-splashed home, a Suffolk prosecutors told jurors Monday.
That may be so, Christopher James’ attorney told jurors in Riverhead, but it wasn’t his client who stabbed Kevin Pierson, 38, to death and left a shower of blood drops in almost every room of the home. James, now 24 and most recently of Binghamton, is on trial, charged with second-degree murder, before Suffolk County Court Judge Timothy Mazzei in Riverhead.
“The strength of my case lies in the simplicity of the facts,” Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Creighton said in her opening statement.
She said those facts include that Pierson was looking for someone to hang out with that night in the blizzard and called a number of people, including James. His DNA was also found in a black jacket tossed on top of the blood trail leading down the stairs to the front door, she said.
And the facts include that James asked the detectives who arrested him how he could be charged if no weapon was ever recovered. Creighton said police never publicized that fact, so only the killer would know it.
Defense attorney Michael Brown of Central Islip said jurors should be as unimpressed with those facts as he is. He was particularly dismissive of the DNA.
“There are many people’s DNA in that jacket,” Brown said, adding that it was not close to his client’s size. Other DNA on it belongs to a felon “who took off to Florida,” Brown said.
Brown said detectives never asked him to talk about that night on camera. “The government doesn’t want you to see him saying he’s not guilty,” he said.
Before the jury came into the courtroom, Creighton tried to close off a possible defense. She noted that Pierson was the lead plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against his employer, Brooklyn fish wholesaler M. Slavin and Sons. She asked Mazzei to prevent Brown from suggesting Pierson’s killing was related to that suit.
“Of course the argument is ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop Mr. Brown from making it,” she said.
Brown stopped short of saying the litigation was related to his defense, but argued he shouldn’t be prevented from exploring the issue during the trial.
Mazzei said he would rule on the issue depending if and when it comes up later.