A childhood friend of murder defendant Brandon Torres testified Tuesday she heard what sounded like fireworks after she drove him and three others to an Old Bethpage park so they could rob a marijuana dealer.
But Patricia Quilliam, who was waiting in her Honda as a lookout on that night in July 2019, soon realized things had gone very wrong.
“It was a gunshot,” the 22-year-old told jurors at Torres’ trial in Nassau County Court. “There was a pit in my stomach.”
Quilliam testified as a cooperating prosecution witness who has a deal to get 5 years of probation and the 8 months of jail time she has already served if the Nassau District Attorney’s Office decides her testimony at Torres’ trial is truthful.
Torres is standing trial on second-degree murder, robbery and weapon charges after what authorities said was the botched robbery of a drug dealer at Haypath Park on July 6, 2019, that left one of Torres' four co-conspirators dead.
Prosecutors contend Torres opened fire on drug dealer Dimitri Filacouris after Torres and his accomplice Kion Carter — who's now in prison for the robbery — robbed Filacouris. But they say Torres fatally shot one of his robbery lookouts, Stefon Pierre, 23, of Queens, while firing at Filacouris after taking his marijuana.
Police arrested Quilliam after the deadly shooting on a first-degree robbery charge that had her facing up to 25 years in prison before she struck her cooperation deal.
Quilliam, a cashier who attends Suffolk County Community College, said she pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge of second-degree attempted robbery.
The prosecution witness also testified Tuesday that she connected Torres with Carter, her then-boyfriend, before Carter set up the meeting to buy marijuana in the park from Filacouris after finding Filacouris on Snapchat.
Quilliam told jurors she was acting impulsively at the time of the robbery, when she said she was off medication she takes after diagnoses of bipolar disorder with psychotic features and borderline personality disorder.
She also testified that the robbery plan only became clear to her a short time earlier, when she stopped minutes away from the park and saw Carter handing out latex gloves to the others and heard Torres say he had a gun.
Torres said “he was packing heat” and patted one of his thighs, Quilliam testified during questioning by prosecutor Michelle Lewisohn.
She said during a cross-examination by Torres' attorney, Jeffrey Groder, that she told the others in the group — which included alleged robbery lookout Charles Spinella — that a robbery was "bad karma."
But Quilliam said Pierre discouraged her from such talk, telling her: "You're gonna jinx us."
She also recalled Tuesday driving a dying Pierre to Plainview Hospital later after the four others left the park and made it back to her car, some carrying him.
"I was blowing stop signs, red lights. I was just focused on getting there," Quilliam said.
She also testified she heard Carter ask Torres what he did with the gun before Torres said: "I wiped it clean and threw it."
The witness said she drove Torres to a nearby Carvel after dropping Pierre at the hospital with Carter and Spinella, and then returned to the hospital.
Quilliam admitted during her cross-examination that she lied to the police and changed her story about the night multiple times.
Torres' attorney has portrayed Torres as the outsider in the group, and got Quilliam to acknowledge she was the link that connected them all. The witness also admitted during Groder's questioning Tuesday that she never saw a gun.
Torres' attorney told jurors during opening statements they should question the credibility of witnesses that included Quilliam, whom he said could avoid prison by testifying against Torres.
Quilliam's cross-examination is expected to continue Wednesday.