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Long IslandCrime

Mistrial in attempted murder trial of sons of former NFL player

The attempted murder trial of two sons of a former NFL player ended in a mistrial Thursday in Nassau County Court after the jury deadlocked, months after one of the brothers won an acquittal in a separate murder case.

Elliott Fortune, 20, and Jaiden Fortune, 18, remain in jail and have a court appearance scheduled for next week when a judge could set a new trial date.

A Nassau district attorney’s office spokesman declined to comment Friday on the mistrial.

A grand jury had indicted the brothers on charges that also included attempted robbery, assault and weapon offenses in connection with a Roosevelt shooting that left a man with a gunshot wound to his face.

Authorities alleged that on April 20, 2015, the brothers tried to rob the victim of his backpack on Long Beach Avenue. The victim was identified in court as James Meeks, 31, an admitted marijuana dealer. Elliott Fortune told his younger sibling “just shoot him,” as the older brother and Meeks struggled over the backpack, according to authorities.

Jaiden Fortune then shot Meeks at close range, with a bullet exiting the man’s jaw and grazing his left shoulder, authorities said.

They said Meeks survived after treatment in a hospital intensive-care unit, and he later made “positive photo array identifications” that led to the criminal charges.

In closing arguments Monday, Assistant District Attorney Donald Levin pointed to a note the victim scrawled in the hospital that he said identified the brothers as the culprits.

“James Meeks, for all his problems, didn’t forget who inflicted that treachery on him that night,” he told jurors.

But defense attorneys Jeffrey Groder and Greg Madey attacked the prosecution’s case by depicting Meeks as someone who wasn’t a credible witness and who fabricated information while testifying.

The prosecution and defense agreed to a “stipulation” regarding Meeks’ testimony, whereby jurors heard that some information Meeks testified to regarding a phone conversation he said he had with Levin about an element of the case wasn’t accurate.

Jurors began deliberating Monday, and acting State Supreme Court Justice Terence Murphy declared a mistrial Thursday after, Groder said, the panel had sent multiple notes indicating they couldn’t reach a verdict.

“We’re grateful for the fact that they worked hard on it,” Groder, Elliott Fortune’s lawyer, said in an interview Friday.

Madey, the younger brother’s attorney, said he didn’t find the victim’s testimony credible and was “glad at least some of the jurors felt that way.”

The mistrial follows Elliott Fortune’s December acquittal in the 2014 slaying of a 21-year-old Freeport man. The brothers’ father, also named Elliott Fortune, played football at Roosevelt High School before going on to play professionally for the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.


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