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Queens man faces murder charge, pleads to weapons offense

William Flowers, a defendant in a Hempstead slaying,

William Flowers, a defendant in a Hempstead slaying, testified that Nassau detectives ignored his request for a lawyer, and coerced him into talking about the incident while continuing to question him. Credit: NCPD

Nassau prosecutors agreed Monday to let a man facing a murder charge linked to a Hempstead shooting plead guilty to a gun offense instead in a deal that includes a 12-year prison sentence.

William Flowers' plea came after his testimony last week that police ignored his request for a lawyer, and coerced him into talking about the January 2013 slaying by continuing to question him. Defense lawyer Brian Carmody had claimed police violated his client's Miranda rights, and wanted a judge to suppress a video they made of Flowers' interrogation after his arrest in Rhode Island.

Under oath, Flowers had told state Supreme Court Justice William Donnino that the tape only showed part of the interrogation.

Authorities had charged Flowers, 32, of Queens, with second-degree murder and weapon charges following the death of James Warren, 29, of Hempstead, whom officers found on a sidewalk after a call about gunshots.

Flowers had faced up to 25 years to life if found guilty of the murder charge. Before last week's testimony, he rejected a separate manslaughter plea offer that also would have included a 12-year prison sentence.

When asked about the gun-related plea in the murder case, District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office released a statement from her saying the felony conviction guarantees Flowers "will be off the street and in prison for a long time and held accountable for his role in the events that happened that day."

Rice spokesman Shams Tarek also called the conviction "strong, swift and fair given the evidence and facts of the case," and said prosecutors wouldn't comment on Flowers' testimony since he withdrew his suppression motions as part of the plea. The deal includes a five-year probation term.

Flowers testified that he told police he was taking part in a marijuana sale when one of two men who got in his car put a knife to his throat, before he fired a gun in the area and drove away.

"There was no way around the unlawful possession of a gun. And the justification defense was less than perfect," Carmody said, in explaining Flowers' plea, and alluding to his client's prior plan to present a self-defense case to jurors.

On Monday, a gentleman who identified himself as Warren's father rocked back and forth in his seat, his eyes closed and his fingers interlaced, as Flowers pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The victim's family declined to comment after court, with Assistant District Attorney Christine Geier saying they planned to speak at Flowers' sentencing.

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