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Long IslandCrime

Witnesses: Conroy at scene of another immigrant attack

Jeffrey Conroy, 17, front, and other teens arrested

Jeffrey Conroy, 17, front, and other teens arrested in a hate crime killing, are led out of a police station for their arraignment in Central Islip. Conroy is accused of being the stabber in the hate crime. (Nov. 10, 2008) Photo Credit: James Carbone

A teenager charged with fatally stabbing an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue was present five days earlier when a Mexican immigrant was beaten unconscious on a busy road in Medford, witnesses said Tuesday.

The witnesses did not identify Jeffrey Conroy - charged with the Nov. 8, 2008, stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero, 37 - as one of those who struck the man, Octavio Cordova, 39, of Medford.

Conroy, 19, of Medford, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter as hate crimes in Lucero's death. Prosecutors say the alleged attacks were part of a crime spree against Latinos by Conroy and six friends.

Cordova testified Tuesday that two teens confronted him on the night of Nov. 3, 2008, and one knocked him unconscious outside a Citgo gas station on Route 112 in Medford.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Cordova said he told police he didn't want to press charges out of fear.

Prosecutors have said Conroy, Jose Pacheco, Anthony Hartford and Kevin Shea - all implicated in the Lucero attack - had gone with four girls to Peppermint Park in Medford before Cordova was attacked.

A police report lists Shea and Hartford as suspects in Cordova's beating and says Cordova stated that someone in a red sweatshirt hit him in the face.

Defense attorney William Keahon focused on inconsistencies in Cordova's statements. Cordova testified Tuesday that his attacker wore a white shirt.

Keahon emphasized that Conroy wore a black sweatshirt that night - not a red one.

Michelle Cassidy, 17, of Coram, with the group in the park, testified Hartford wore a red sweatshirt. She said Conroy was a friend and that he "might have kicked" Cordova. She later said he did not attack Cordova.

Cassidy, who gave Conroy a quick smile from the stand, admitted that she had lied to a grand jury to help Conroy.

"Did you tell me you lied because you wanted to protect your friend?" prosecutor Megan O'Donnell asked.

"Yeah," Cassidy replied.

Cassidy said she, another girl, Conroy and Pacheco were in the bathrooms at the Citgo station. As she exited, she said she heard Shea yell, "Squad up!"

She said Conroy came out of the bathroom with Pacheco and that the group fled because "the cops were coming." Then, Cassidy told O'Donnell, she saw Cordova on the ground. She said she and a friend told police Shea and Hartford were responsible.

Keahon returned to that point. "You spoke to a police officer at the scene," he said. "What did you say?"

"That it wasn't them [Conroy and Pacheco]," Cassidy replied.

Vincent Martino, of Medford, said he was filling up his sport utility vehicle when he saw two teens at the station, one in a red sweatshirt, who fled. Seeing Cordova with two youths standing over him, Martino called 911 and chased those two in his SUV.

He said he caught up to them as police arrived. "I grabbed the two kids and put them against the police car," he said, noting one had on a black sweatshirt.

With Carl MacGowan

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