The night before James DiMartino was killed in October 2008, three people accused of being part of a conspiracy to murder the Nesconset attorney met with suspect Ronald Thornton and drank several bottles of expensive champagne at a Commack tavern, a bartender testified yesterday.
The trio - an exotic dancer and two male friends - bought the bubbly soon after having a conversation at Shady Al's on Jericho Turnpike with Thornton, the Nesconset mortgage broker accused of orchestrating DiMartino's death, bartender Nicole Fuschillo said.
Thornton, DiMartino's friend and business partner, paid the dancer and her friends about $10,000 to kill DiMartino, 44, on Oct. 20, 2008, prosecutors said.
Thornton, 39, of Nesconset, is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy. His attorney, Glenn Obedin of Central Islip, contends prosecutors have no evidence linking Thornton to DiMartino's death.
On the third day of testimony in Thornton's trial, Fuschillo said Thornton was a frequent patron of the bar, where he was known as "Rocky."
Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford, Fuschillo said Thornton spoke at the bar on Oct. 19, 2008, with dancer, Monique Randall, whose stage name was "Spice," Randall's boyfriend, Donovan Raysor, and Raysor's friend, Darnell Festus, all of Queens.
Randall, 30, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Raysor, 22, and Festus, 24, who prosecutors say was the gunman, face first-degree murder and conspiracy charges and will be tried separately.
After Thornton left the bar, Randall, Raysor and Festus were "popping bottles of Champagne," each of which cost $100, Fuschillo said.
Questioned by Obedin, Fuschillo acknowledged that people drinking expensive alcohol in the bar, which has since closed, was not unusual.
The following Friday, four days after DiMartino's death, Thornton returned to the bar, appearing "very nervous. He was pacing," Fuschillo said.
"He asked me if Spice was working," she testified.
Later, Randall called the bar and asked if Thornton was there, Fuschillo said.
"I said, 'Don't get involved with him. Something's going on with him,' " she said.
Thornton later met with Randall outside, then left, she said.