A jury Tuesday acquitted Brandon Torres of murder in the Old Bethpage park killing of an acquaintance in a marijuana robbery that took a deadly turn. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnap

A jury Tuesday acquitted Brandon Torres of murder in the Old Bethpage park slaying of an acquaintance during a 2019 marijuana robbery that took a deadly turn.

The panel convicted Torres, 25, of Staten Island, of second-degree robbery.

But they also found him not guilty of manslaughter, first-degree robbery and two weapon charges in their third day of deliberations in the Nassau County Court case.

Jurors appeared to reject the prosecution's contention that Torres was the triggerman who fatally shot Stefon Pierre, 23, of Queens, by mistake after the alleged robbery lookout emerged from the darkness of Haypath Park.

Prosecutors had alleged Torres opened fire after he and another accomplice, Kion Carter, 28, robbed drug dealer Dimitri Filacouris of about a pound of marijuana.

They contended Torres had intended to shoot Filacouris after the robbery at about 11 p.m. on July 6, 2019, but a bullet from Torres' .380 caliber gun instead hit Pierre — one of Torres’ four alleged accomplices.

Torres' attorney, Jeffrey Groder, said in an interview after the verdict that his client's reaction had been "somewhat tearful" since he potentially had been facing up to life in prison on the second-degree murder charge.

Groder said the defense was "very gratified" by the jury's vote and that his client now is facing a minimum prison sentence of 3 1/2 years and a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty set Torres' sentencing for Sept. 23 and remanded him back to jail after the verdict.

“We respect the verdict and thank the jury for their service,” Nassau District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said in a statement.

Groder had attacked the credibility of the government’s two key witnesses throughout the trial to try to convince jurors Torres wasn’t the shooter.

 Jurors never heard that Carter is serving a 14-year prison sentence for the robbery. 

Getaway driver Patricia Quilliam, 22, testified as a cooperating prosecution witness that she heard Torres say before the robbery that he was “packing heat” and later say he’d wiped off and dumped the gun.

Quilliam drove a dying Pierre to Plainview Hospital, where Carter and alleged robbery lookout Charles Spinella, then 17, also went inside. But the witness told jurors she drove Torres to a nearby Carvel so he could flee.

Filacouris, 24, identified Torres in his testimony as the gunman during questioning by prosecutor Michelle Lewisohn. He said Torres put the weapon in his face during the robbery before he heard Carter shout “Shoot him! Shoot him!”

But Filacouris admitted during Groder’s cross examination that he’d told the grand jury while answering questions about what he’d seen at the time of the shooting that “it happened so fast I wasn’t really sure” and that he’d been “frozen up.”

Groder also got Filacouris, a recovering drug addict, to admit he’d been having drug withdrawal symptoms when he picked Torres out of a police photo array as the shooter.

The witness also said he’d been under the influence of Percocet in the park and on a drug — likely oxycodone — during his grand jury testimony.

Groder contended Torres was a convenient scapegoat who was "the easiest one to blame” for the shooting as an outsider among a group of close friends.

He also portrayed Filacouris and Quilliam, then off her medication for bipolar disorder, as unreliable and motivated to testify against Torres to benefit themselves.

He pointed out Quilliam can avoid prison if prosecutors decide she testified truthfully.

Groder also had Filacouris acknowledge he’d signed an agreement with prosecutors consenting to be debriefed in the homicide case in the hope they’d make him a plea offer on the related felony drug charge he faces.

Lewisohn told jurors that surveillance video, phone records and other evidence police collected corroborated the testimony of Quilliam and Filacouris.

She contended Torres was the mastermind behind what was supposed to be a robbery to finance a new apartment for him in Pennsylvania after he resold the drugs.

Lewisohn told jurors that after the robbery “went off without a hitch,” Torres “made a decision to kill.”

 The prosecutor also pointed to internet searches on a phone police recovered from Torres' kitchen garbage as further evidence of his guilt.

Before the park encounter, the phone was used to make about 20 searches for the kind of gun used in the crime.

Authorities also found 63 searches for “Long Island shooting” were made with the phone after the killing and leading up to Torres’ July 8 arrest. 

In her closing argument, Lewisohn recalled police testimony that Torres said “I was going to turn myself in today” after they found him hiding under a bed in his home.

A jury Tuesday acquitted Brandon Torres of murder in the Old Bethpage park slaying of an acquaintance during a 2019 marijuana robbery that took a deadly turn.

The panel convicted Torres, 25, of Staten Island, of second-degree robbery.

But they also found him not guilty of manslaughter, first-degree robbery and two weapon charges in their third day of deliberations in the Nassau County Court case.

Jurors appeared to reject the prosecution's contention that Torres was the triggerman who fatally shot Stefon Pierre, 23, of Queens, by mistake after the alleged robbery lookout emerged from the darkness of Haypath Park.

Prosecutors had alleged Torres opened fire after he and another accomplice, Kion Carter, 28, robbed drug dealer Dimitri Filacouris of about a pound of marijuana.

They contended Torres had intended to shoot Filacouris after the robbery at about 11 p.m. on July 6, 2019, but a bullet from Torres' .380 caliber gun instead hit Pierre — one of Torres’ four alleged accomplices.

Torres' attorney, Jeffrey Groder, said in an interview after the verdict that his client's reaction had been "somewhat tearful" since he potentially had been facing up to life in prison on the second-degree murder charge.

Groder said the defense was "very gratified" by the jury's vote and that his client now is facing a minimum prison sentence of 3 1/2 years and a maximum of 15 years behind bars.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty set Torres' sentencing for Sept. 23 and remanded him back to jail after the verdict.

“We respect the verdict and thank the jury for their service,” Nassau District Attorney’s Office spokesman Brendan Brosh said in a statement.

Groder had attacked the credibility of the government’s two key witnesses throughout the trial to try to convince jurors Torres wasn’t the shooter.

 Jurors never heard that Carter is serving a 14-year prison sentence for the robbery. 

Getaway driver Patricia Quilliam, 22, testified as a cooperating prosecution witness that she heard Torres say before the robbery that he was “packing heat” and later say he’d wiped off and dumped the gun.

Quilliam drove a dying Pierre to Plainview Hospital, where Carter and alleged robbery lookout Charles Spinella, then 17, also went inside. But the witness told jurors she drove Torres to a nearby Carvel so he could flee.

Filacouris, 24, identified Torres in his testimony as the gunman during questioning by prosecutor Michelle Lewisohn. He said Torres put the weapon in his face during the robbery before he heard Carter shout “Shoot him! Shoot him!”

But Filacouris admitted during Groder’s cross examination that he’d told the grand jury while answering questions about what he’d seen at the time of the shooting that “it happened so fast I wasn’t really sure” and that he’d been “frozen up.”

Groder also got Filacouris, a recovering drug addict, to admit he’d been having drug withdrawal symptoms when he picked Torres out of a police photo array as the shooter.

The witness also said he’d been under the influence of Percocet in the park and on a drug — likely oxycodone — during his grand jury testimony.

Groder contended Torres was a convenient scapegoat who was "the easiest one to blame” for the shooting as an outsider among a group of close friends.

He also portrayed Filacouris and Quilliam, then off her medication for bipolar disorder, as unreliable and motivated to testify against Torres to benefit themselves.

He pointed out Quilliam can avoid prison if prosecutors decide she testified truthfully.

Groder also had Filacouris acknowledge he’d signed an agreement with prosecutors consenting to be debriefed in the homicide case in the hope they’d make him a plea offer on the related felony drug charge he faces.

Lewisohn told jurors that surveillance video, phone records and other evidence police collected corroborated the testimony of Quilliam and Filacouris.

She contended Torres was the mastermind behind what was supposed to be a robbery to finance a new apartment for him in Pennsylvania after he resold the drugs.

Lewisohn told jurors that after the robbery “went off without a hitch,” Torres “made a decision to kill.”

 The prosecutor also pointed to internet searches on a phone police recovered from Torres' kitchen garbage as further evidence of his guilt.

Before the park encounter, the phone was used to make about 20 searches for the kind of gun used in the crime.

Authorities also found 63 searches for “Long Island shooting” were made with the phone after the killing and leading up to Torres’ July 8 arrest. 

In her closing argument, Lewisohn recalled police testimony that Torres said “I was going to turn myself in today” after they found him hiding under a bed in his home.

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