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In video played in court, man denies killing Hempstead girl, 12

Jakwan Keller, the man accused of killing a

Jakwan Keller, the man accused of killing a 12-year-old Hempstead girl by firing a gunshot into her home in 2015, is shown in custody on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Jakwan Keller insisted after his arrest in connection with the 2015 shooting death of a 12-year-old Hempstead girl that while he’d heard street talk linking his name to it, he’d played no part in the crime.

“You’re trying to tell me that you’re going to lock me up for the murder of a little girl?” Keller, now 21, asked in an interview room at Nassau police headquarters after his January 2016 arrest.

“I’m not lying to you,” Nassau Homicide Det. Robert Pescitelli replied. “That’s why you’re here.”

On Tuesday, prosecutors played video of Keller’s police interview at a pretrial hearing in Nassau County Court. It was the first public airing of the defendant’s detailed interaction with law enforcement immediately after his arrest and before his indictment later on murder and weapon charges.

Keller, who pleaded not guilty, has remained jailed without bail while awaiting trial.

Authorities have charged the Hempstead man with firing the bullet on Oct. 16, 2015 that blasted through the window of a Dartmouth Street home, hitting seventh-grader Dejah Joyner in the head as she ate dinner in her family’s living room. The Girl Scout died a day later while hospitalized.

Police have alleged the shooting grew out of an earlier dispute involving warring factions of the Bloods street gang. Keller fired into Dejah’s house because he believed her older brother stole a hoverboard from his younger brother, police said.

Keller belongs to the Park Side faction of the Bloods and the victim’s brother is a member of the gang’s High Point crew, police have said.

But Keller, who bragged to police in the videotaped interview after his arrest about being known for having cash and success with women, insisted he wasn’t in a gang and wasn’t foolish enough to do something that would mean throwing his life away.

“I don’t know about that,” he said of Dejah’s slaying. “ . . . I’m sorry for that little girl.”

But police told Keller it wasn’t just talk on the streets that led them to him, saying “other evidence, technology, science” also pointed to him.

“We put it all together,” Pescitelli said.

Keller’s defense attorney, Bruce Barket, said after Tuesday’s hearing that police violated his client’s rights by continuing to speak to him after a point in the interview where he said his client “unequivocally” asked for a lawyer — something he said happened multiple times.

Authorities revealed for the first time in court Monday they have an eyewitness who will point to Keller as the triggerman.

But the defense has argued video surveillance proves that person was walking away — not sitting on a porch as he told authorities — and couldn’t have seen what he claimed to have seen.

The hearing continues Wednesday.

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