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Grand jury indicts suspects on gang assault charges in fatal Oceanside stabbing, records show

Authorities have said Khaseen Morris, 16, succumbed to

Authorities have said Khaseen Morris, 16, succumbed to a single stab wound to his chest hours after a brawl at an Oceanside strip mall on Sept. 16. Credit: Jim Staubitser

A Nassau grand jury has indicted at least five of the Long Beach teenagers police arrested on gang assault charges after a fight that ended in an Oceanside High School senior’s stabbing death last month, according to court records.

The grand jury’s actions follow the previous indictment of Tyler Flach, 18, of Lido Beach, on second-degree murder and weapon charges in the Sept. 16 death of Khaseen Morris, 16.

Police have alleged Flach was among a group of young men who charged at Morris and his friends before an after-school brawl in which Flach plunged a knife into Morris’ chest, piercing his heart.

A source with knowledge of the case said Tuesday that all seven of the Long Beach teens whom police previously arrested on second-degree gang assault charges now have been indicted on that same felony charge. 

Police previously had released the names of five of the seven, identifying them as: Haakim Mechan, 19; Marquis Stephens Jr., 18; Javonte Neals, 18; Taj Woodruff, 17; and Sean Merritt, 17.

Court records show at least three of the five were indicted on charges of second-degree assault along with a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault.

The five previously pleaded not guilty at District Court arraignments and are free on bond.

Police haven’t released the names of two 16-year-old males who were arrested on the same felony gang assault charge.

Flach also has been indicted on a gang assault charge, the source told Newsday.

Flach, a Nassau Community College student, maintains his innocence and remains in jail without bail.

"Given the charges of which we already are aware, this charge comes as no surprise," Flach's lawyer, Edward Sapone, said in a statement Tuesday. "There is a lot that is not known which will come to light at the appropriate time. Tyler looks forward to his day in court."

A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas declined to comment Tuesday.

Some of the arraignments are scheduled for next Tuesday in Nassau County Court, according to court records.

"Everybody's culpability is not the same," Donald Rollock, the lawyer for Woodruff, said Tuesday of the indictments.

"What should not be lost is this young man lost his life and I don't want to minimize this," he added of Morris. "My client had nothing to do with this young man losing his life, but that should not be overlooked."

Attorney Dennis Lemke, who represents Merritt, said Tuesday his client's indictment "was not unexpected since the grand jury is not adversarial in any way."

Attorney Lawrence Carrà, who represents Neals, said an indictment was “part of the process” and he was still investigating the case on his client’s behalf.

Attorney David Haber, who represents Mechan, said Tuesday his client “had nothing to do with the fatality in the case.”

The lawyer added that he looked forward to reading court documents from the prosecution that he expected would be handed over at his client’s upcoming arraignment.

William Kephart, the attorney for Stephens, said Tuesday his client maintains his innocence, adding: "He had no weapons, nor did he participate in any altercation involving Khaseen Morris."

Police said the brawl took place about 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 16 in a Brower Avenue strip mall not far from Oceanside High School.

Morris went to the strip mall location knowing the ex-boyfriend of a girl he was friendly with wanted to confront him, according to police.

The victim’s family has said Morris had texted the ex-boyfriend to say he wasn’t dating the girl but had walked her home from a party.

Morris was the youngest of four siblings and had just started his senior year at the Oceanside school weeks earlier after his family moved there from Freeport over the summer.

Morris' sister, Keyanna Morris, said Tuesday she hadn't yet heard news of the new indictments but that her family would be in court whenever the defendants were arraigned.

"An example needs to be set on these kids so other kids won't attempt these kinds of crimes," she added.

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