A Suffolk County grand jury has indicted two of the three Bellport residents accused of kidnapping and killing a Hempstead man in March because they believed he had stolen their PlayStation console.
The indictment, handed up July 14 and made public Thursday, charged Joshua J. Nickens, 25, and his girlfriend, Dequanna Bates, 24, both of Hoffman Avenue in Bellport, each with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree kidnapping in the strangulation death of Alan Moore, 23.
Nickens, who a Suffolk prosecutor said strangled Moore on March 27 as Moore begged for his life, was also indicted on first-degree murder.
“There is no direct evidence connecting my client to this murder,” said Nickens’ attorney, Scott Gross of Garden City. “After a thorough and complete investigation, we will aggressively and successfully defend this case.”
The grand jury indictment did not name the third person, Larry Dennis, 47, Nickens’ stepfather, who was arrested along with Nickens and Bates on July 11 and charged in connection with Moore’s death.
In court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kearon said there was an eyewitness to the murder, which she said took place in the basement of an abandoned house in Wyandanch. However, she did not name the eyewitness.
Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney, declined to say whether Dennis is cooperating with authorities.
Moore and Dennis knew each other, Kearon said, because Moore had lived with Dennis in 2016.
According to Kearon, Bates lured Moore from his apartment on the false promise to “hang out with him.” Instead Nickens forced Moore into a white sport utility vehicle at gunpoint and drove to the Wyandanch home where Nickens tied Moore’s hands behind his back with shoelaces, then strangled him with a “string-type” object. Kearon said Bates used her cellphone to light the dark basement.
The defendants removed Moore’s clothes and left his body inside the home, Kearon said. The defendants burned their clothes and Moore’s clothes in a smoker in their backyard.
Suffolk police at the time said a man searching for a place to get warm April 1 entered the boarded-up one-story home on Long Island Avenue and found Moore’s body.
In videotaped interviews with Suffolk police homicide detectives, the three confessed to the killing, Kearon said, and bloodstain samples found in Bates’ car matched Moore’s DNA.
The couple was arraigned Thursday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead before Judge Stephen Braslow. Their attorneys — Gross and Brendan Ahern of Hauppauge — entered not guilty pleas.
Judge Braslow ordered Nickens held without bail and gave Ahern until Sept. 18 to make his bail application.
“There are critical facts about this case that have not yet been fully investigated by the authorities,” said Ahern, who added that the allegations against his client are not accurate.