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Darrell Fuller convicted in murder of Officer Arthur Lopez, Brooklyn man Raymond Facey

Accused cop killer Darrell Fuller leaves the Nassau

Accused cop killer Darrell Fuller leaves the Nassau County Courthouse after the jury ends their first day of deliberation on Friday July 25, 2014 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A jury Monday convicted a Queens felon of murdering Nassau Police Officer Arthur Lopez and Brooklyn immigrant Raymond Facey, with the slain cop's sister pumping her fist in victory as authorities led the killer away wearing her brother's handcuffs.

"Yes! Yes!" Lopez's sister, Charo Ramos, whispered.

The officer's father, Alfonso Lopez, raised his outstretched hands upward before later displaying a portrait of his son as the victims' loved ones left the Mineola courthouse in a silent procession that included several dozen law-enforcement officials.

The verdict in the first-degree murder trial of Darrell Fuller, 34, of St. Albans, came after less than five hours of juror deliberations and followed testimony from 78 witnesses over seven weeks. He faces life in prison without parole, and acting State Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter set a sentencing hearing for Sept. 5.

With its verdict, the jury decided that on Oct. 23, 2012, Fuller fired a bullet into the heart of Lopez, 29. The decorated member of the department's elite Emergency Service Unit lived in Babylon Village and had been on the police force for eight years.

Jurors also found that Fuller shot Facey, 58, in the head on the Cross Island Parkway, leaving the union construction worker and Jamaica native to bleed to death on the road while stealing his car to escape.

At trial, prosecutors said the fatal shootings occurred after Fuller -- who was carrying a gun -- fled from a Northern Boulevard crash scene. He then shot Lopez during a traffic stop at 241st Street and Jamaica Avenue at the Nassau-Queens border as the officer walked up to Fuller's car with a Taser.

Fuller then drove his disabled Honda Accord about a quarter-mile south on the parkway before killing Facey, who had pulled his Toyota Camry over to talk to one of his daughters on his cellphone.

Calling her late husband "my everything, my all," Facey's widow, June Facey, 63, praised prosecutors and police and thanked the jury.

"Me and my husband want to thank you all," she said Monday, speaking of him as "a wonderful, beautiful man who I have to go home tonight without.

"It's almost two years and it feels like yesterday," the Brooklyn woman said. "It's hard. It's really, really hard."

'We know who did it'

One of Facey's daughters, Abbigail Jones, 23, said the verdict wouldn't bring her father back, but called it a blessing that the family knew who his killer was.

"We know who did it. We know we got the right person. We know he's guilty and we can go home and rest assured that he's not going to be able to hurt anyone else."

Police Benevolent Association president James Carver called Lopez "a building block" of the police force who was murdered "just shy of his 30th birthday" and never got a chance to get married or have children.

"It's been a long ride," said Ramos, the officer's sister, with her parents and many supporters next to her. "My New Year's resolution was to put a killer behind bars, and, man, we did."

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice thanked jurors for sifting through "a mountain of evidence" and called the victims' families "gracious throughout a time of unimaginable grief."

She said Lopez's death was "a stark reminder of the danger that every single man and woman who wears a police uniform goes through every single day."

In the defense's closing argument, attorney Kenneth St. Bernard of Mineola tried to discredit eyewitness testimony -- including by saying that Fuller's photo was featured in news reports 24 hours before a police lineup.

Gunshot residue claims

He had claimed the gunshot residue police found on his client's hand could have come from when Fuller was shot -- an incident that prosecutors said the defendant staged hours after the slayings so he could try to look like a third victim.

St. Bernard also had questioned why DNA evidence that showed Facey's blood was on clothing that authorities linked to Fuller emerged only right before the trial started. He claimed the government's case was riddled with holes.

But prosecutor Mitchell Benson told jurors in his closing argument that there was overwhelming evidence of Fuller's guilt.

Besides DNA evidence, he pointed to the testimony of six eyewitnesses who picked Fuller out of the police lineup. He reminded jurors of video evidence that included a recording by an off-duty NYPD officer's cellphone that showed the truck of Lopez and his partner, Officer Clarence Hudson, pursuing Fuller's car before the deadly confrontations.

Benson said tests had shown that the same semiautomatic Ruger pistol was used in both killings, and to inflict Fuller's gunshot wounds -- a weapon police found in a car linked to Fuller's friend Gerald Williams.

Cellphone records also linked Fuller's phone to the area of Lopez's slaying at the time it happened, and to the neighborhood of a Queens preschool, where more video evidence showed Fuller hid as police were searching for him.

Juror Calogero Troia, 36, a maintenance worker, said jurors were "mostly on the same page" from the time their deliberations began.

"There was a lot of evidence on what he had done and the prosecution did an amazing job. They pointed everything out, and at the end, you know, justice was served," he said.

The trial at a glance

The prosecution's evidence

* DNA tests showed victim Raymond Facey's blood was on sweatpants police took from Darrell Fuller at a hospital and on a sweatshirt a witness saw Fuller toss in a Queens yard.

* Six eyewitnesses, including slain Officer Arthur Lopez's partner and an off-duty NYPD officer, picked Fuller out of police lineup the next day.

* Fuller's right hand tested positive for gunshot residue after police took a sample at a hospital as he was being treated for gunshot wounds hours after the homicides.

* Tests showed the same 9 mm pistol was used to kill Lopez and Facey and to inflict two gunshot wounds to Fuller, whom police said staged his own shooting to try to look like a victim.

* The homicide weapon was found in a car linked to Fuller associate Gerald Williams, who had Fuller's number and a photo of them together saved in his phone.

* Sprint records linked Fuller's cellphone to the area of Lopez's slaying and the area of a Queens preschool where police said he hid. They also showed Fuller's phone had multiple contacts with Williams' phone, which was then also used near the preschool.

* Video evidence included parts of police pursuit of Fuller's car before Lopez's slaying, and Fuller at the preschool as the police manhunt was underway.

The victims

* Police Officer Arthur Lopez: A decorated eight-year veteran of the Nassau County Police Department and a member of its elite Emergency Service Unit, the 29-year-old Babylon Village resident was posthumously promoted to detective and eulogized by his unit commander as a loyal, hardworking cop who was always there when you needed him.

* Raymond Facey: The Jamaican immigrant and union construction worker, 58, lived in Brooklyn and was a beloved husband, father and grandfather who was shot after pulling off the Cross Island Parkway to talk to one of his daughters on his cellphone.

The defendant

* Darrell Fuller: Was on parole at the time of the October 2012 slayings. Fuller, 34, of Queens, had pleaded guilty to attempted murder in 2005 and violated parole with a 2010 felony drug arrest before he was freed again in 2011. He told police after his arrest that he had dialysis on the day of the 2012 slayings and didn't remember any confrontations before later denying he killed anyone.

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