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Jury begins deliberations in West Babylon fatal shooting case

Daniel Greenspan, then 28, of Manhattan, is escorted

Daniel Greenspan, then 28, of Manhattan, is escorted out of the Third Precinct in Bay Shore on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Greenspan was arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Michael E. Sinclair, 32, who was found shot to death in West Babylon in 2009. Credit: James Carbone

The only evidence that a Manhattan man came to West Babylon to kill a romantic rival is the lying words of both men’s ex-girlfriend, the defendant’s attorney told Suffolk jurors in his closing argument Monday.

But before jurors began deliberating in the case against Daniel Greenspan, 30, Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford argued that phone records and other evidence show that Noriella Santos, 28, was telling the truth. She testified that at Greenspan’s direction in the early hours of Jan. 31, 2009, she lured Michael Sinclair, 32, from Brooklyn to Kellum Street, expecting Greenspan to rob and beat him.

But instead, she said, Greenspan — believing that his genital herpes originated from Sinclair who then gave it to Santos — shot him to death.

Defense attorney Arthur Aidala of Manhattan told jurors they couldn’t believe her.

“I believe in this wall that separated the individual from the government,” he said. “The only tool they [prosecutors] had to tear down this wall was Noriella Santos.”

No other evidence put Greenspan, who is charged with second-degree murder, at the crime scene or even in Suffolk County. There was no forensic evidence at the scene.

Aidala said Santos had many reasons to lie. The biggest, he said, was that even though she was once charged with second-degree murder in the case and faced decades in prison, the reward for her eventual cooperation against Greenspan was a promise from state Supreme Court Justice William Condon in Riverhead to sentence her to probation for a guilty plea to second-degree attempted robbery.

He said Santos’ role in the case was like broken glass falling into his 101-year-old grandmother’s red sauce.

“You have to throw the whole sauce out,” he said. “There’s glass in it.”

Aidala mocked the idea that Santos was afraid of his client and suggested she committed the crime out of jealousy.

“They got nothing else. They got zero, zilch,” he said. “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken poop, but that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Clifford, however, said Santos — a meek woman sexually abused as a girl — was the perfect tool for Greenspan. Clifford said phone records show Greenspan outsmarted himself in the case.

He normally called and texted constantly with Santos, but as the plan to lure Sinclair to Suffolk went into action, his phone went silent. Instead, Santos began exchanging calls with David Belton — a Greenspan friend she had never met before. Clifford said Greenspan was using Belton’s phone.

“Why was she talking to Belton so much? She’s not. She’s talking to him,” she said, pointing at Greenspan. “She has no relationship with David Belton.”

Belton pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder after two trials ended in hung juries.

She noted that Sinclair was shot three times in the head at close range.

“This is personal,” Clifford said. “That is an execution. This is not a robbery gone wrong.”

And it wasn’t Santos, she said. She faced Greenspan again, using the nickname Santos gave him. “This is him. This is Papi Rey — [Spanish for] King Daddy — right here.”

Deliberations began Monday and resume Tuesday.

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