Nassau County jurors Thursday found Charles Creekmur guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the Jan. 7, 2012, death of fellow Nassau jail inmate Antwan Brown, authorities said. But jurors rejected the prosecution's argument that Creekmur committed second-degree murder.
Creekmur, 27, of Brooklyn, faces a maximum prison term of 25 years at his scheduled sentencing before Judge Meryl Berkowitz on Aug. 21.
The Mineola trial included testimony from Creekmur himself, as well as correction officers who described the violent struggle that ended in the death of Brown, an inmate housed in the same area.
Nassau Assistant District Attorney Martin Meaney argued that Creekmur, who stands 6 feet and weighed 240 pounds, slipped into Brown's cell just as the door was closing after breakfast and attacked the 5-foot-5, 155-pound man who was barefoot and in boxer shorts.
Correction officers heard the fight and peered into the cell to find the men struggling, according to testimony.
The officers blasted Creekmur with mace through an opening in the locked cell door, which ended the scuffle, but it was too late to save Brown, who died despite efforts to revive him.
"There's a point where Antwan Brown is a limp rag and he's still squeezing," Meaney said, referring to Creekmur, who testified that he only briefly held Brown's neck.
Meaney elicited testimony from an inmate, Devon Adams, that Creekmur had exchanged words with Brown, 26, of Long Beach, the night before, and that the attack was a successful attempt to settle a score.
In his closing argument, Meaney stressed how much time and energy it takes to strangle a person. Brown died of asphyxiation.
But Creekmur's attorney, Joseph Lo Piccolo of Garden City, elicited testimony from Creekmur, his only witness, that his client was attacked by two men and pushed into Brown's cell, where Brown -- who pleaded guilty to attempted assault of a police officer -- was waiting with a shank.
During the struggle, Creekmur testified, Brown stabbed him in the leg and the two other attackers slipped out of the cell as the doors closed.
Creekmur, who was awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges at the time, testified that he had been harassed in jail by gang members months before and was only defending himself.
He testified that he bit Brown on the back and feared for his life as the other two men pummeled his back. "I only wanted to protect myself," he testified. "That's all."