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Judge grants Bellport man's request to consider plea deal in crash that killed 5

A plea offer would remove second-degree murder charge against Jamel Turner, 24, and allow him to avoid trial and a potential life sentence if convicted.

A judge agreed Tuesday to give Jamel Turner,

A judge agreed Tuesday to give Jamel Turner, above in court in 2018, a night to consider a plea offer that would send him to prison for 30 years instead of a potential life sentence. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Bellport man about to go on trial on charges of killing five people while fleeing from police at more than 150 mph in a stolen car asked Tuesday if he could have the night to think about a plea offer made by Suffolk prosecutors that would put him in prison for 30 years.

"I think that's fair," state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho told Jamel Turner, 24, who had just talked privately for about 10 minutes with his mother to discuss the offer. If Turner is convicted of second-degree murder and dozens of other charges after trial, he faces 50 years to life in prison.

Turner's request came after prosecutors revealed to him that the evidence in the case would include testimony from a friend of his passenger in the stolen Chevrolet Camaro SS. The friend, a woman, was on the phone with the passenger, Lonidell Skinner, 19, of Bellport, and listened to Turner revving the engine and taking off when he realized police were following him, Assistant District Attorney Brendan Ahern said. And then she heard Skinner plead for his life and heard the crash that killed him on Feb. 14, 2018, Ahern said.

"He is effectively begging for Mr. Turner to slow down, and let him out," Ahern said. Turner responded, according to Ahern, by telling Skinner to "shut the [expletive] up."

This testimony will help prove that Turner, not Skinner, was the driver, Ahern said.

Skinner was killed after he was ejected when the Camaro plowed into the back of a Mazda in Ridge. All four people in the Mazda — Jacquelyn McCoy, 55, her daughter Mary Alice Booker, 36, and son Anthony McCoy, 33, and his girlfriend, Tameka Foster, 42 — burned to death. McCoy lived in Calverton. Her daughter, son and Foster lived in Ridge.

Ahern also said that Skinner's aunt would testify she saw Turner pick up Skinner and drive away. In recorded calls from the Suffolk County jail, Ahern said, Turner lied about who was driving.

Ahern said prosecutors had not disclosed the existence of these witnesses before because Turner has a history of intimidating and threatening witnesses in other cases. Ahern did not name either witness.

Police at the time said Turner fled after they responded to a report of a stolen vehicle.

Turner was heading east on Middle Country Road with packages of crack in the Camaro when he crashed into the Mazda near Woodlot Road, police said. The Camaro then struck an oil truck, police said, and the Mazda collided with an eastbound 1999 Infiniti.

Vito Milillo, driver of the oil delivery truck, suffered a broken neck and back, prosecutors have said.

At Camacho's request, Ahern told Turner that even if he beats the murder charges, which often are difficult to prove in vehicular homicide cases, he still faces 30 years in prison on all his other charges. 

Turner discussed his options first with his attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City, and then with his mother, Kim Lockett.

When he was done, Gross told Camacho, "He's seriously considering the options that are on the table," but wanted the night to think about it.

Camacho told Turner that if he takes the plea deal and avoids the murder charge, he would not face spending the rest of his life in prison.

"This is your decision, and I know it's a difficult one," Camacho said.

If Turner rejects the plea deal, a pretrial hearing will begin Wednesday and jury selection will take place next week.

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