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Long IslandCrime

Conroy guilty of manslaughter as a hate crime

Jeffrey Conroy stands next to his lawyer, Bill

Jeffrey Conroy stands next to his lawyer, Bill Keahon, in Riverhead Criminal Court. (Feb. 2, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

The jury in Jeffrey Conroy's murder and manslaughter trial began deliberating Wednesday morning in State Supreme Court in Riverhead.

Conroy, 19, of Medford, is accused of the Nov. 8, 2008, stabbing death of Ecuadorean immigrant Marcelo Lucero, 37, near the Patchogue train station. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, as hate crimes, among multiple other charges.



5:30 p.m.: Jury breaks for the day


The jury was dismissed for the day - to return at 9:30 a.m. Thursday - after asking State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle to define one of the lesser charges in the high-profile case.

The jury deliberated more than seven hours Wednesday.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the panel sent a note asking Doyle to read the legal definition of second-degree attempted assault, one of the charges Conroy faces for alleged attacks on three other Hispanic men before prosecutors say he fatally stabbed Lucero.

Doyle told jurors their note to him asked twice to read the definition of the charge. He asked them to "clarify" what they are seeking from him before they resume deliberating Thursday morning.

In addition to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, Conroy is charged with second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime, third-degree attempted assault and third-degree attempted assault as a hate crime for assaults on Angel Loja and Hector Sierra on Nov. 8, 2008, and on Octavio Cordova on Nov. 3, 2008.

In sending the jurors home, Doyle said, "Given the late hour, I will dismiss you for the evening. You've had a long day. Get a good night's rest."



2:30 p.m.: Jury wants Hausch's testimony, Conroy's statement to cops



At about 2:30 p.m., the judge read a note from the jury asking to hear part of Nicholas Hausch's testimony.

The jury also said it wanted to see Conroy's five-page statement to police.

Hausch, 18, of Medford, testified for the prosecution about the night Lucero was killed and about an incident on Nov. 3 when another Hispanic man, Octavio Cordova, was attacked.

Jurors specifically asked to hear the portion of Hausch's testimony when he was being questioned by prosecutor Megan O'Donnell.

On March 29, Hausch testified during the prosecutor's direct examination that he and Conroy fled after a confrontation with Lucero and his friend, Angel Loja, 37, near the Patchogue train station.

"He told me he stabbed him," Hausch testified and said he saw Conroy holding a bloodstained knife.

"We were telling him to throw it," he said. "He said he washed it off in a puddle."

Hausch was one of four of Conroy's co-defendants to plead guilty to first-degree gang assault. He agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as part of his guilty plea.

Conroy's written statement to police was introduced into evidence. In it, Conroy said, "I continued to run toward him and stabbed him once in the shoulder or chest . . . The physical altercation was over after I stabbed him."

In the statement, Conroy also admitted to participating in attacks on two other Hispanic men in Patchogue and an assault on a Latino man in Medford on Nov. 8.

Last Thursday, Conroy testified that Det. John McLeer lied when he wrote in the statement that Conroy admitted to stabbing Lucero. - CARL MACGOWAN



Jury wants teens' photographs



The jury asked for the photographs of all seven teenagers originally charged in connection with the attack on Lucero.

The other six teenagers are Jordan Dasch, 19, of Medford; Anthony Hartford, 18, of Medford; Nicholas Hausch, 18, of Medford; Christopher Overton, 17, of East Patchogue; Jose Pacheco, 19, of East Patchogue; and Kevin Shea, 18, of Medford.

Hartford and Overton have pleaded not guilty to first-degree gang assault and other charges and are awaiting trial. When Conroy testified last week, he pinned blame for Lucero's stabbing on Overton.

Dasch, Hausch, Pacheco and Shea all pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault, among other charges, and agreed to cooperate with authorities.

Hausch, who testified against Conroy, and Pacheco each face 5 to 25 years in prison. Doyle has agreed to give Dasch and Shea each no more than 10 years in prison if they continued to cooperate. - KATHLEEN KERR, KEITH HERBERT



Jury hears definitions of murder, manslaughter



Less than two hours after starting its work, the jury requested to hear clarifications of the definitions of second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter.

Doyle, who on Tuesday had instructed the jury on the law, took the bench at 12:14 p.m. and ordered the panel brought in to the third-floor courtroom. Moments earlier, prosecutor Megan O'Donnell, defense attorney William Keahon and Conroy had entered the courtroom.

The judge said he had received a note from the jury asking for clarification regarding the charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, the charge of first-degree manslaughter, and the presumption of innocence.

The judge finished addressing the jury's questions at 12:34 p.m., and the panel returned to deliberations.

Lunch for the jury was due at 1 p.m.

The top six charges against Conroy are second-degree murder as a hate crime; second-degree murder; first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime; first-degree manslaughter; second-degree manslaughter as a hate crime; and second-degree manslaughter.

If convicted of one of the most severe charges - second-degree murder as a hate crime or second-degree murder - Conroy faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years to life. The first-degree manslaughter charges each carry a maximum sentence upon conviction of 25 years. - KATHLEEN KERR, KEITH HERBERT



"I would have definitely said manslaughter"



Alternate juror Cosmos Hionidis voiced certainty in his opinion of the charges against Conroy.

"I would have definitely said manslaughter," Hionidis of Commack, said after he was dismissed. "I don't think it was a murder case."

Hionidis also said Conroy "would have been better off not going on the stand." - KATHLEEN KERR



"Leaning strongly toward murder charge"



Cathy Tidmarsh, 54, another alternate juror, said she believed Conroy guilty of all charges. His testimony last week did not change her mind, she said.

"My feeling was he was guilty on all charges," Tidmarsh said outside the courtroom after she was excused. "I was leaning strongly toward the murder charge." - KATHLEEN KERR



Alternate juror did not believe Conroy


Before the jury set to work Wednesday morning, State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle excused the four alternate jurors. The panel's 12 members - seven men and five women - then began deliberations.

Alternate juror Judith Hallock, as she was leaving the courthouse after her dismissal, said of Conroy's testimony: "I did not believe it."

Conroy took the stand in his own defense last week and pinned the blame for Lucero's stabbing on another teenager who was there that night.

Hallock said, "I would have voted for guilty definitely on the manslaughter charge, not certain about the murder." - KATHLEEN KERR

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