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Man convicted of killing girlfriend’s ex-lover in West Babylon

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

Moments after a Suffolk jury convicted a Manhattan man of killing his girlfriend’s former lover eight years ago in West Babylon, he lowered his head at the defense table and wept.

The conviction of Daniel Greenspan, 30, for second-degree murder in the Jan. 31, 2009 killing came after almost three days of deliberations.

Prosecutors said Greenspan had his girlfriend, Noriella Santos, lure Michael Sinclair, 32, another former lover of hers, from Brooklyn to West Babylon.

The verdict came shortly after jurors first asked to have the testimony of Santos — the key witness in the case — read back to them, and then said they didn’t need to hear it.

“Here we are,” defense attorney Arthur Aidala of Manhattan told his client as they prepared to hear the verdict in Riverhead. “Good luck.”

Afterward, Aidala patted Greenspan’s back and rubbed his neck.

“We’re extremely disappointed,” Aidala said later. “We look forward to the appellate process.”

Greenspan faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison when state Supreme Court Justice William Condon sentences him on April 27.

Jurors said they initially voted 10-2 for acquittal on the strength of Aidala’s closing argument. He had said Santos made up a story about what happened to save herself from her own murder charge in the case, and argued there was no other evidence showing Greenspan was even in Suffolk County that night.

Santos eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted robbery and likely will be sentenced to probation. She testified that Greenspan wanted revenge against Sinclair, because he believed Sinclair had given genital herpes to Santos during a hiatus in their relationship, and that she then gave it to Greenspan when they reunited.

Santos said Greenspan told her to bring Sinclair to Suffolk so he could rob and beat him, but he instead shot him to death.

Even jurors who first favored acquittal said they had an uneasy feeling that Greenspan was involved. Eventually, they said they found evidence that was buried in the voluminous phone records in the case.

Greenspan’s phone was not active that night, but Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford argued that Greenspan was using the phone of a friend, David Belton, who later pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder.

One juror said she wondered why Clifford had one number on Belton’s phone records highlighted in a different color. The number was for Santos’ brother, but Belton never knew Santos before that night and never knew her brother.

Because that call was made when Santos was alone with Sinclair, jurors said that showed Greenspan was using Belton’s phone. “That was it for me,” said the juror who was the last vote for acquittal.

“It was a huge puzzle,” said another juror, Carol Genovese. “We had to accept the fact that there would be empty pieces in the puzzle.”

She said her missing piece was knowing nothing about Belton. He was not a witness at this trial and jurors did not learn during the trial about his guilty plea.

Other jurors said they wondered why Santos would do Greenspan’s bidding. They found out after the verdict that Greenspan had been charged, but never convicted, of beating her — once, bad enough to break an orbital bone in her face, Clifford said. Some jurors said they would have believed her more readily if they’d heard testimony about that, but Condon ruled it was too prejudicial against Greenspan.

“He was the puppet master,” Clifford said after the verdict. “She was a true domestic violence victim.”

As they were discussing the deliberations, several jurors cried as they talked about Sinclair and his family.

“I don’t know how the Sinclairs could possibly feel,” Genovese said. “I just hope for their sake, it’s possibly over.”

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