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Detective defends confession challenged in murder case

Gabriel Hubbard was convicted in 2012 of shooting

Gabriel Hubbard was convicted in 2012 of shooting to death Jaquan Jones on July 5, 2008, in Wyandanch, when Hubbard was 15-years-old. Credit: SCPD

The Suffolk detective who got a cabdriver who had been shot by a drunk, off-duty Nassau police officer to sign a statement denied Wednesday that it has been discredited, was a false confession or that he knew of any police misconduct associated with the statement.

The detective who wrote that statement, Ronald Tavares, has been testifying at a pretrial hearing for Gabriel Hubbard, 23, who is charged with the 2008 killing of Jaquan Jones in Wyandanch. Hubbard was convicted of second-degree murder in 2012, but state Supreme Court Justice Martin Efman set aside the verdict because Suffolk prosecutors had not told the defense about concerns with the veracity of the cabdriver statement.

Efman ruled prosecutors violated what is known as the Brady rule, which generally requires them to turn over any evidence favorable to defendants as soon as they have it.

Tavares got Hubbard to sign a confession too.

Defense attorney JoAnn Squillace asked Tavares if he told another detective the Hubbard conviction was reversed because of his own behavior with Huntington Station cabdriver Thomas Moroughan.

“I was not under the impression there was any police misconduct,” Tavares responded.

The 2011 statement signed by Moroughan was one of the reasons he was charged with assault after a road rage incident with off-duty Nassau officers. Those charges were later dismissed and a Nassau Internal Affairs investigation found that key portions of Moroughan’s confession couldn’t have happened. Moroughan told investigators that he was denied access to an attorney and that the confession included statements he never made.

Efman ruled that if Hubbard’s jury had known about the Moroughan episode, it might have disregarded Hubbard’s statement. There was no physical evidence linking Hubbard to the shooting and no witness identified him as the shooter.

Hubbard’s defense hopes that after this hearing, state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen will suppress his confession.

Squillace of Jamaica, Queens, has not only suggested that Tavares traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, to intimidate a then 17-year-old Hubbard into confessing, but that he did the same thing to Moroughan as the cabdriver lay in a hospital bed, heavily medicated with a bullet wound in his chest.

When Squillace referred to the Moroughan statement as a false confession, Tavares differed with her.

“I’m going to dispute that, ma’am,” Tavares said. “That statement was never adjudicated by any court as a false confession or was ever found to be discredited. I’m not aware that it’s a false confession.”

Tavares, like Suffolk prosecutors, said the case against Moroughan was dismissed not because of problems with the statement, but because the Nassau officer who shot Moroughan and arrested him lacked credibility.

Tavares told Squillace that the statement, in which Moroughan supposedly said “I deserved to be shot,” may not even be a confession to assault. Moroughan was accused of tussling with the off-duty officer by the side of Oakwood Road and threateningly revving the engine of his hybrid cab.

“You read it — I don’t know that it’s a confession,” Tavares said.

Assistant District Attorney Peter Timmons attempted to curtail Squillace’s questioning about the Moroughan statement, but Cohen told Timmons, “This statement is fair game.”

Earlier Wednesday, retired Greensboro Det. William Parrish testified that while he helped Tavares pick up Hubbard, he witnessed none of the abuse that Hubbard has since claimed, which included alleging that he was denied his right to call an attorney or his guardian and intimidated into signing the confession.

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