Paul Scrimo appears at the Nassau County Supreme courthouse in...

Paul Scrimo appears at the Nassau County Supreme courthouse in Mineola Wednesday during closing arguments in his second murder trial. Credit: Jim Staubitser

Farmingdale murder suspect Paul Scrimo's fate is in the hands of a Nassau County jury for the second time in 21 years.

Scrimo, 66, had served more than 17 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence for the strangulation murder of Ruth Williams before a federal appeals court threw out his conviction in 2019 after finding that his constitutional rights were violated when he was not allowed to call three witnesses at his first trial.

After his conviction was overturned, prosecutors working for then-Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas made a decision to retry the case.

Scrimo went on trial for a second time on a second-degree murder charge on Sept. 18 for the killing of 48-year-old Williams, a Farmingdale resident. He faces 25 years to life if convicted.

During closing arguments before Acting Nassau Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty Wednesday, defense attorney Earl S. Ward of Manhattan alleged it was another man who killed Williams in her apartment on April 11, 2000.

"There's only one killer who walked through those doors," Ward told the jury at the start of summations Wednesday. "That killer was the prosecution's star witness. That person was John Kane."

Kane, who testified at both trials to seeing Scrimo strangle Williams, at first with his bare hands and later with a telephone cord, had been drinking at a local bar with the pair before they went back to Williams' apartment that night, according to trial testimony. Two witnesses who were allowed to testify only in the second trial alleged Kane sold drugs for a living and one of them told the jury he previously threatened to strangle her with a telephone cord to settle a drug debt.

Ward painted Kane as an untrustworthy witness who tried to conceal his history as a drug dealer from the jury and blamed Scrimo for a crime he committed. The defense alleged Kane, who was 28 years old at the time, killed Williams after a sexual encounter.

Ward said Kane's DNA was found underneath a fingernail of Williams, which he called a sign of a struggle. Scrimo's DNA and fingerprints were not submitted as evidence by the prosecution, which Ward suggested points to his client's innocence.

"You sat there, you heard the evidence," Ward told the jury. "This case is riddled with doubt."

Assistant Nassau County District Attorney Daryl Levy told the jury the defense theory presented at trial was first devised by Scrimo five months after his arrest in May 2000, following several encounters with detectives where he gave a different version of events.

Levy said prosecutors believe Scrimo killed Williams after learning from Kane that she had performed a sex act on him while Scrimo, who he suggested planned to have sex with Williams that night, was buying beer and cigarettes at a convenience store below her apartment.

The breaking point came when Williams insulted Scrimo's wife, Levy said. Kane testified at both trials that Williams told Kane to let Scrimo "go home to his fat, ugly wife."

 Levy told the jury the defense blamed Kane for the murder because they have no other choice.

"When you're backed into a corner, you must attack and that's what they did," Levy said. 

The prosecutor alleged Williams didn't fight back because toxicology evidence shows her blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit and a medical examiner's report showed she suffered blunt force trauma to the head, which he said was likely caused by hitting the ground or the bed next to where her remains were found. Levy said Kane's DNA more likely got under Williams' fingernail during the sex act.

 Williams, a graduate of Farmingdale High School, had been divorced for 25 years and worked as a florist in Bethpage at the time she was killed. Scrimo lived with his wife and children in a basement apartment at a building where he worked as a super, Newsday reported at the time. Scrimo, Williams and Kane all lived within two miles of each other in downtown Farmingdale where they frequented bars, Levy said.

 Scrimo, who was released from prison after his conviction was overturned, arrived at court Wednesday with more than a half a dozen family members supporting him. 

Scrimo had appealed his prior conviction to higher courts several times over the years and was rejected despite claims he was improperly tried on several grounds until the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the conviction. "We conclude that Scrimo's claim is based on clearly established constitutional law," the justices wrote.

 Scrimo's first trial took place over 15 days in May 2002. The jury deliberated for six hours during that first trial in Nassau County Criminal Court. 

The current jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to resume deliberations Thursday morning.

Farmingdale murder suspect Paul Scrimo's fate is in the hands of a Nassau County jury for the second time in 21 years.

Scrimo, 66, had served more than 17 years of a 25-years-to-life sentence for the strangulation murder of Ruth Williams before a federal appeals court threw out his conviction in 2019 after finding that his constitutional rights were violated when he was not allowed to call three witnesses at his first trial.

After his conviction was overturned, prosecutors working for then-Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas made a decision to retry the case.

Scrimo went on trial for a second time on a second-degree murder charge on Sept. 18 for the killing of 48-year-old Williams, a Farmingdale resident. He faces 25 years to life if convicted.

During closing arguments before Acting Nassau Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty Wednesday, defense attorney Earl S. Ward of Manhattan alleged it was another man who killed Williams in her apartment on April 11, 2000.

"There's only one killer who walked through those doors," Ward told the jury at the start of summations Wednesday. "That killer was the prosecution's star witness. That person was John Kane."

Kane, who testified at both trials to seeing Scrimo strangle Williams, at first with his bare hands and later with a telephone cord, had been drinking at a local bar with the pair before they went back to Williams' apartment that night, according to trial testimony. Two witnesses who were allowed to testify only in the second trial alleged Kane sold drugs for a living and one of them told the jury he previously threatened to strangle her with a telephone cord to settle a drug debt.

Ward painted Kane as an untrustworthy witness who tried to conceal his history as a drug dealer from the jury and blamed Scrimo for a crime he committed. The defense alleged Kane, who was 28 years old at the time, killed Williams after a sexual encounter.

Ward said Kane's DNA was found underneath a fingernail of Williams, which he called a sign of a struggle. Scrimo's DNA and fingerprints were not submitted as evidence by the prosecution, which Ward suggested points to his client's innocence.

"You sat there, you heard the evidence," Ward told the jury. "This case is riddled with doubt."

Assistant Nassau County District Attorney Daryl Levy told the jury the defense theory presented at trial was first devised by Scrimo five months after his arrest in May 2000, following several encounters with detectives where he gave a different version of events.

Levy said prosecutors believe Scrimo killed Williams after learning from Kane that she had performed a sex act on him while Scrimo, who he suggested planned to have sex with Williams that night, was buying beer and cigarettes at a convenience store below her apartment.

The breaking point came when Williams insulted Scrimo's wife, Levy said. Kane testified at both trials that Williams told Kane to let Scrimo "go home to his fat, ugly wife."

 Levy told the jury the defense blamed Kane for the murder because they have no other choice.

"When you're backed into a corner, you must attack and that's what they did," Levy said. 

The prosecutor alleged Williams didn't fight back because toxicology evidence shows her blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit and a medical examiner's report showed she suffered blunt force trauma to the head, which he said was likely caused by hitting the ground or the bed next to where her remains were found. Levy said Kane's DNA more likely got under Williams' fingernail during the sex act.

 Williams, a graduate of Farmingdale High School, had been divorced for 25 years and worked as a florist in Bethpage at the time she was killed. Scrimo lived with his wife and children in a basement apartment at a building where he worked as a super, Newsday reported at the time. Scrimo, Williams and Kane all lived within two miles of each other in downtown Farmingdale where they frequented bars, Levy said.

 Scrimo, who was released from prison after his conviction was overturned, arrived at court Wednesday with more than a half a dozen family members supporting him. 

Scrimo had appealed his prior conviction to higher courts several times over the years and was rejected despite claims he was improperly tried on several grounds until the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals vacated the conviction. "We conclude that Scrimo's claim is based on clearly established constitutional law," the justices wrote.

 Scrimo's first trial took place over 15 days in May 2002. The jury deliberated for six hours during that first trial in Nassau County Criminal Court. 

The current jury began deliberations Wednesday afternoon and is scheduled to resume deliberations Thursday morning.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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