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Conroy jury asks judge for murder definition

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

A Riverhead jury deliberating the fate of a teenager accused of fatally stabbing an Ecuadorean immigrant in 2008 Thursday asked the judge in the case for a definition of second-degree murder.

Jeffrey Conroy, 19, of Medford, has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime and also simple second-degree murder in the Nov. 8, 2008, stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero, 37, of Patchogue. Conroy also faces manslaughter charges.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle explained that a person who intends to cause death and does cause death commits second-degree murder.

Conroy has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, among other charges.

Lucero died after Conroy and six other teenagers surrounded him. Conroy alone has been charged with the stabbing; the other teens have either pleaded guilty to lesser crimes or are awaiting trial.

Conroy's father was in the courtroom Thursday, as he has been throughout the trial. The Lucero family arrived around 4 p.m. and went directly into the courtroom, passing a phalanx of news cameras, but did not speak.

A family adviser, the Rev. Allan Ramirez, told reporters the Luceros will be "extremely disappointed" if the jury does not convict Conroy of second-degree murder as a hate crime.

Ramirez said the family had not attended the first day of deliberations and most of the second day because "this is a very painful time. . . . They have to relive the pain, and they have to relive the hate, they have to relive the horror and the fear" that Lucero experienced.

Prosecutors say Conroy and the other teenagers went out on the evening of Nov. 8, 2008, specifically to hunt for Hispanics and beat them up - a pastime the group had engaged in before. They drove to Patchogue in search of prey and found Lucero and his friend Angel Loja near the railroad station. Prosecutor Megan O'Donnell has argued that the group surrounded Lucero and that Conroy stabbed him in the chest with a saw-toothed knife.

Conroy's defense attorney, William Keahon, contends his client went to Patchogue that night only because he needed a ride from the teen who drove them there in his sport utility vehicle. Keahon said during the trial that Conroy wanted a ride to a sleepover at a friend's house but that once he was in the car, the driver didn't take him there.

The jurors, in their second day of deliberations, appeared to be working at a fast pace on the long list of charges Conroy faces. Doyle gave them a definition of second-degree attempted assault, which they had requested Wednesday. And they heard a readback of testimony from a trial witness, Hector Sierra, who said he was attacked by a group of teens in Patchogue on the night Lucero died; Sierra was not asked to identify Conroy at trial.

On Wednesday, the jury requested pictures of the seven teens implicated in the attack as well as a written statement police took from Conroy after he was arrested.

The jury also has asked for and has seen the bloodstained tank top and pants taken from Conroy after he was arrested in the stabbing. Investigators found Lucero's blood on the clothing.

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