Until they both were shot to death in their cars by the same "coward" five months apart in 2010, a road construction worker in Ronkonkoma and a Holbrook man getting ready to go to work had nothing in common, a Suffolk prosecutor told a judge Wednesday.
"One shot to death for sport, the other shot to death in retribution for an unpaid drug debt," Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said in his opening argument at the trial of Reginald Ross, 37, of Yaphank. "The coward sits before you today, judge."
Ross, charged with two counts of second-degree murder and other counts, waived his right to a jury, so state Supreme Court Justice William Condon will decide the case. Ross is charged with first killing Raymond Hirt, 51, of Mastic Beach, on May 24, 2010, because Ross was annoyed that Hirt, a flagman, delayed him days earlier at a construction site on Portion Road.
On Oct. 14, 2010, Biancavilla said Ross and another man, Luis Cherry, went to kill Scott Williams with the hope of luring his best friend, a drug dealer on the run, to his funeral so that Ross could kill the friend, too. But Ross and Cherry, who has since pleaded guilty, killed Williams' brother John by mistake outside his home.
Biancavilla said Ross stalked both men, and then made key admissions to Alison Lumberda, a drug addict whom, Biancavilla said, Ross treated as a "slave." Those admissions are corroborated by other evidence and witnesses, he said.
Defense attorney John Scarpa said Lumberda, who believed herself to be possessed by demons, is not believable.
"She is a person who is either highly manipulative or nuts," Scarpa said as his client listened, dressed with a tie looped over the collar of his untucked shirt.
Friends and family of both victims filled several rows of the courtroom. Hirt's mother, Carol Hirt, said her son's children "have been reeling. It's been very hard for all of them. . . . Every morning, I feel I live that morning over again."
A co-worker, John Salerno, testified that he saw a dark Jeep narrowly miss his excavator on Beech Street, and then pull up next to Hirt's car.
"I seen a gun come out" of the Jeep's driver window, Salerno said. "I heard it go off."
When Salerno ran to Hirt's car, he said he saw Hirt bleeding from the head and mouth.