In the end, it was Joshua Golson-Orelus’ own words that helped compel jurors Wednesday to convict him of the 2015 slaying of a Jericho gas station clerk in a botched robbery that took place amid a high-profile series of armed heists.
At 24, the New Cassel man now is facing the possibility of life in prison without parole after first and second-degree murder convictions in the death of Egyptian immigrant Hany Awad, 56, of Levittown. Citing his videotaped confession among other evidence, jurors also found Golson-Orelus guilty of multiple robbery counts.
They determined he was the masked man behind what prosecutors and police called a “one man crime wave” responsible for 10 holdups at gas stations and convenience stores in Westbury, Hicksville, Jericho and East Meadow.
By their verdict, the panel found Golson-Orelus donned a hooded sweatshirt and mask and threatened victim after victim at gunpoint – often as surveillance video rolled – while carrying out a crime spree between the end of 2014 and mid-2015 that authorities said netted about $11,000.
Juror Anthony Colon, 56, said the panel determined there was “overwhelming evidence” that proved a case from the prosecution that “left no stone unturned” after “excellent police work.” He said the defendant’s videotaped confession “left no doubt in our mind that he did it.”
Awad was working at his brother’s BP gas station on Jan. 28, 2015 when Golson-Orelus fired a bullet into his heart as he tried to fight off a robbery. At the time, Awad’s wife and children were making plans to join him in New York so they could pursue their American dream together, prosecutor Michael Walsh said Wednesday.
“Nothing we do can bring their loved one back. But we hope that they’re at least comforted by this verdict,” he said.
Golson-Orelus’ family and Mineola defense attorney, Fred Pollack, declined to comment Wednesday. Pollack had argued there were holes in the government’s case that added up to reasonable doubt. He told jurors his client’s statement to police wasn’t voluntary and jurors shouldn’t rely on it.
Golson-Orelus told police he accidentally shot Awad when the man lunged at him during a holdup attempt. But jurors found the shooting was intentional.
Nassau police made cracking the case a priority for months before Golson-Orelus’ arrest, doing stakeouts and deploying technology that included use of GPS tracking devices. Such a device was planted in a money pack that Golson-Orelus made off with during a Citgo robbery in Westbury, which helped lead to his arrest in Utica shortly after that June 2015 heist.
Nassau Police Officer Jeffrey Shaikh got into a car pursuit with Golson-Orelus after picking up his trail following that robbery, and was able to get a look at his face and note his vehicle’s license plate. The pursuit didn’t end in an arrest, but police tracked the car to the home of Golson-Orelus’ girlfriend. In the car, they found $634, along with a sweatshirt and a pellet gun that looked like a match from the robbery video. They also recovered a photo ID and a baggage claim ticket with Golson-Orelus’ name on them.
Police later linked a silver revolver they seized in a separate car stop to Awad’s murder. Authorities then used phone records from the day of the slaying to connect Golson-Orelus to the driver of that car. Evidence also showed the revolver had Golson-Orelus’ DNA profile on it.