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Demetrius Blackwell pleads not guilty to murder of NYPD Officer Brian Moore

Demetrius Blackwell appears in court for his arraignment

Demetrius Blackwell appears in court for his arraignment Sunday, May 3, 2015, in Queens. Photo Credit: AP

The father of slain NYPD officer and Massapequa resident Brian Moore stared down his son's alleged killer Thursday at the man's arraignment on murder charges inside a Queens courtroom packed with more than 100 police officers.

Demetrius Blackwell, 35, of Queens Village, was charged in a 12-count indictment with one count each of aggravated murder, first- and second-degree murder, attempted aggravated murder, first- and second-degree attempted murder and weapons and drug possession charges in the May 2 shooting death of Moore in Queens Village.

He pleaded not guilty in court Thursday as the slain officer's father, retired NYPD Sgt. Raymond Moore, fixed his eyes on the ex-convict and scores of NYPD officers looked on.

Father expresses anger

Blackwell "should be put in a cage," Moore said as he left state Supreme Court in Kew Gardens with his wife Irene after the hearing. "And what he did to Brian, I wish New York had a death penalty because I'd love to pull the switch on him."

Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Zayas ordered Blackwell held without bail. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said there will be "no plea bargain in a case such as this."

Blackwell, wearing an orange corrections department jumpsuit, was emotionless in the courtroom -- a sea of blue, with some officers wearing T-shirts in remembrance of Moore.

The Plainedge High School graduate and his partner, Erik Jansen, were on patrol at about 6:15 p.m. May 2 in an unmarked car as part of the 105th Precinct's anti-crime unit, when they saw Blackwell adjusting his waistband and attempted to question him, prosecutors said.

Officials have said the officers suspected Blackwell was carrying a gun. He fired several shots while the officers were still inside their vehicle, striking Moore twice in the head, prosecutors said. Moore died two days later.

Brown said Blackwell stole a T-shirt and sneakers after the shooting and before his arrest "in an attempt to alter his appearance." Blackwell also had small amounts of cocaine and marijuana on him when he was arrested, Brown said.

Lawyer lays out defense

David Bart, Blackwell's attorney, said he would likely pursue a defense based on mental disease or defect.

Bart said Blackwell, who is being held at Rikers Island, has epilepsy, seizures with "possible evidence of bipolar disorder" and "evidence of prior psychosis." He said his client had brain surgery several years ago that "changed him dramatically."

"Just because I'm pursuing mental disease or defect doesn't mean I'm not also looking at making sure they have the right guy, making sure they can prove the elements of the crime," Bart told reporters outside court. "Everything's on the table at this point."

Brown said Bart would have to prove Blackwell suffered from a mental disease or defect at the time of the shooting and lacked the capacity to understand his actions were wrong.

"I have no reason to believe that the defendant can meet that burden and certainly we will vigorously oppose that," Brown said.

Blackwell served a full 5-year sentence in the upstate Clinton Correctional Facility for a 2000 incident in which he pointed a handgun, demanded property and fired shots at a car. Bart said his client is "not a career criminal. He's not a bad guy."

Authorities said that after his arrest for Moore's shooting, Blackwell told police his nickname was "hell-raiser." He has been arrested five times prior by the NYPD for criminal possession of a weapon, robbery, grand larceny and assault -- twice -- between 1999 and 2013, police have said.

Bart called the alleged nickname "nonsense" and said "he's known by a lot of people as a sweetheart and a nice guy. . . . But sometimes people can have episodes or breaks depending on what the nature of their illness is."

New York City Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch, surrounded by officers on the steps of the courthouse, denounced Blackwell as a career criminal.

"You can imagine what it's like for that father . . . to have to sit in that courtroom and restrain himself," Lynch said. "Anyone of us would want to leap over that bar and grab him by the throat. . . . It's extremely difficult."

Jaime Taylor, Blackwell's uncle, said prosecutors don't have "anything to pinpoint he did this" and the family is "taking it hard."

Taylor, 55, said Blackwell has "had a tumor on his brain. . . . He doesn't think correctly, but at the same time, we're not saying he's guilty of this crime."

Blackwell's brother, Dwayne Cross, 29, said "it was a shock" to see his brother in court.

"He's family and I care for him," Cross said. "Hopefully it wasn't done by him."


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