A Nassau jury Monday convicted a Bethpage man of fatally stabbing his wife, Maria, and wounding his daughter in a 2016 attack before leading police on a high-speed chase in which he crashed into a gas station.
A jury in Nassau County Court in Mineola deliberated for less than five hours before convicting Robert Crumb, 45, of second-degree murder, one count each of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest. Jurors acquitted Crumb of criminal possession of a weapon and another count of second-degree assault.
Crumb was remanded and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years-to-life in prison when he is sentenced on June 14.
“This defendant brutally murdered the mother of his children, assaulted his daughter, and endangered the lives of police and the public in a reckless high-speed chase,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a news release afterward. “My heart goes out to the victim’s family and while no conviction can erase their pain, I hope this verdict gives them some comfort.”
Takis Kontonis, the father of Maria Crumb, cried as the verdict was read. Kontonis, of Astoria, said while the conviction will not bring his daughter back, he was “very happy right now. My daughter got justice.”
Juror A. Edward Major, a real estate attorney from Manhasset, said: “We just didn’t feel that the defenses that were brought up had any believability or credibility.”
Major added, “There were people who expressed doubts all along, but when we started to compare the evidence with the charge that we had, and the elements of the crime, we found that they did fit in quite easily,” said Major.
The jury did not find sufficient evidence to convict Crumb on criminal possession of a weapon or assaulting officer Andrew Mirenda. “We didn’t feel that there was any particular intent to assault him,” said Major.
Prosecutors Friday, in their closings, described Crumb, a janitor, as unrepentant for the Nov. 4, 2016, assault which killed his wife and injured his 16-year-old daughter.
Crumb showed his wife no mercy after an argument about their marriage, injuring her in an initial knife attack their 12-year-old son tried to stop before Crumb fatally slit her throat a short time later, according to Nassau prosecutor Michael Walsh.
When asked if the verdict was fair, defense attorney Stephen Scaring said: “We’ll address that in appeal.”
Crumbs’ parents, who were also in the courtroom, declined to comment.
Scaring had presented a self-defense theory in which he portrayed Maria Crumb, then 41, as the aggressor who brought a knife into the room where his client was sleeping before a struggle ensued.
Scaring also suggested in his closing argument that his client’s actions in the family’s Seitz Drive home may have been influenced by his use of prescription cough medicine.
“The law for good reason gives the defendant the presumption of innocence,” the Garden City defense lawyer told a jury. “Add up all of the things that are missing at some point in your deliberations and say ‘Can I really be convinced?’ ”
Walsh shrugged off Scaring’s assertions, saying Robert Crumb carried out a “targeted” and “purposeful” attack and was “not crazy” at the time but “vicious.”
“Everything he did was perfectly controlled,” Walsh said of Crumb, calling the cough medicine argument “a defense of desperation,” and adding that blood evidence “conclusively shows” Maria Crumb couldn’t have attacked Robert Crumb first.
Authorities have said an early-morning 911 call from the couple’s then-12-year-old son brought police to the house, where they found Maria Crumb dead in a bedroom after Robert Crumb had fled.
Prosecutors have alleged the boy tried to come to his mother’s aid when he heard her screams and jumped on his father’s back to try to stop the initial attack, before he was thrown off. Authorities also claim Robert Crumb wounded his daughter, then 16, as she tried to grab a knife from him before he carried out a second, and deadly, stabbing attack on his wife.
Crumb later led police on a high-speed chase, hitting speeds of up 90 miles per hour on the Southern State and Belt parkways. The chase ended with a fiery explosion in Brooklyn when Crumb drove into gas station pumps, got out of his car and charged at a police officer, knocking him to the ground, authorities said.
Prosecutors said Crumb — who authorities said stabbed himself in his wrists and neck — was captured after police used a stun gun on him.
On Friday, Scaring criticized prosecutors for what he called mishandling of blood and urine tests to determine whether his client had adverse effects of medication. He also pointed to expert testimony that wounds on his client’s hand were “consistent” with defensive injuries, and said prosecutors “manipulated” his client’s young son before his testimony and “his story dramatically changed.”
One of the last things jurors heard was the boy’s call to 911, when he cried and told an operator: “My dad stabbed my mom.”
When it came to mercy for Maria Crumb, Walsh then told the jury, Robert Crumb “showed her none.”
With Robert Brodsky