The second of two men who lied on the witness stand at the trial of a man convicted of murder was sent to prison Tuesday.
Tariq Burwell, 36, of Wyandanch and Allen McGhee, 28, of North Amityville, both pleaded guilty to perjury charges earlier this year. They were defense witnesses at the trial last year of Shawn Lawrence, 43, of North Amityville. Lawrence was convicted of second-degree murder, attempted murder and other charges for the Jan. 12, 2010 shooting that killed Ralph Terry, 44, and seriously wounded David Hodges and Ralph Council Jr.
Lawrence was sentenced last year to 75 years to life in prison. The shooting happened after McGhee took food from Hodges’ plate at a party, not realizing it had shrimp in it. McGhee, who is allergic to seafood, got sick and recruited Lawrence and two other men to take revenge. They shot Hodges, Terry and Council, who were all in a minivan, at Andpress Plaza, a North Amityville apartment complex.
McGhee had another 1 to 3 years added to his 12-year sentence for manslaughter in February. Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice William Condon sentenced Burwell to 2 to 4 years in prison.
Before that happened, Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock said Burwell has “one of the worst rap sheets I’ve seen in 17 years,” for committing a constant stream of crimes his entire adult life.
“His history has culminated in this offense,” Kurtzrock said. “He affirmatively tried to get a murderer acquitted.”
Burwell did that by accusing Det. Thomas Walsh of forging his signature on statements that identified Lawrence as one of the shooters. With Walsh and other homicide detectives watching from the front row of the courtroom, Kurtzrock said Burwell’s accusations defamed the investigators.
Defense attorney Jonathan Manley thanked the district attorney’s office for recommending a minimal sentence for Burwell and said this crime, like many in his client’s past, was motivated by his drug addiction.
Kurtzrock said Burwell now claims he came up with the forgery story when Lawrence’s trial attorney, Joseph Hanshe of Sayville, paid him $1,300 for his testimony.
Hanshe said later in an interview that’s absurd and provably untrue. Before Hanshe represented Lawrence, Burwell had already signed two sworn affidavits making the forgery claim, Hanshe said. That’s why he called Burwell as a witness, not because he’d paid for testimony.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Hanshe said. “He’s a liar. I would never do anything like that.”
Kurtzrock acknowledged he had no information to support Burwell’s claim that Hanshe paid him.
McGhee testified during the trial that Lawrence did not take part in the shooting. When McGhee pleaded guilty, however, he said under oath that he did it with Lawrence.