A Nassau County jury Monday acquitted the son of a former NFL player of murder and gun charges in connection with a 2014 shooting in Roosevelt.
Elliott Fortune, 19, had faced the charges in the Dec. 20, 2014, slaying of Sayvon Burt, 21, of Freeport.
“Mr. Fortune is obviously gratified by the verdict,” said Jeffrey Groder, his Mineola defense attorney. “He has maintained the fact that he was not involved from the beginning.”
Despite the not-guilty verdict, Fortune went back to Nassau’s jail after his trial. Records show there is a separate attempted murder and attempted robbery case from 2015 pending against him and his brother, Jaiden Fortune, 18.
Their father, also named Elliott Fortune, played football for Roosevelt High School before going on to play professionally for the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
In the murder trial, Groder told jurors they shouldn’t rely on the testimony of star prosecution witness Joel Villalobos, 20, who signed a cooperation agreement and pleaded guilty to a second-degree weapon possession charge after first facing a murder charge in the same case.
Groder said that witness was “a documented liar” who fled to Georgia after Burt’s killing and later gave police different stories about what happened.
But prosecutor Donald Levin told jurors that while the cooperating witness gave his gun to Fortune after he agreed to do the killing, Fortune was the “trigger man.”
Levin said the killing was retribution for Burt allegedly having pocketed hundreds of dollars that was supposed to pay for a friend’s birthday party at a hotel.
The prosecutor had said Burt was lured to a dirt pathway, where he was shot in the back of his head, after he got in touch with a group that included Fortune and Villalobos and said he wanted to buy a small amount of marijuana.
“You can’t pick your witnesses … so the prosecution makes a choice. Do you want Villalobos or do you want the man who had that ability to kill someone like that?” Levin had said.
Brendan Brosh, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said Monday that his office respects the jury’s verdict.