A Copiague man pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment charging him with taking part in "the execution-style killing" of a man who'd just been released from prison.
Boyd Holland, 22, is one of two people charged so far in the May 2012 shooting of Eric Brooks, 35, in Wyandanch.
The other, John Steele, 29, is serving 8 years in prison for several burglaries. He will be returned to Suffolk in the next few weeks to be arraigned on the same second-degree murder charge, said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.
Kurtzrock told Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson that Holland, Steele and others lay in wait for Brooks, who was at a friend's house shortly after getting out of prison on a drug charge. When Brooks stepped outside to make a phone call, he was shot at least seven times, the prosecutor said.
Hudson ordered that Holland be held without bail. He was placed in protective custody at the request of defense attorney William Griffin III of Central Islip.
"There have been threats on his life," Griffin said.
Outside court, Griffin said his client didn't shoot anybody.
"I think the police are trying to squeeze him because they think he knows who the bad guys are," Griffin said.
The attorney said over the summer his client was the victim of two shootings and lost part of his liver. Holland was also shot in a bar in 2009 and left in critical condition.
Holland was arrested last week in Orlando, Florida. Griffin said his client went there after Suffolk homicide detectives told him to get out of town after he was shot. He said he has been aware of the murder investigation and was not evading police.
Kurtzrock said outside court he did not know why Holland and Steele wanted to kill Brooks. It could have been gang-related, he said, noting that the defendants are members of the Bloods street gang. He did not know if Brooks was a gang member.
The investigation into the shooting is continuing, the prosecutor said.
Before the arraignment, court officers asked Holland's and Brooks' relatives to remain calm. Authorities said there was a fracas when Holland was first brought to court in Central Islip last week, forcing the courtroom to be cleared.
Members of neither family would comment Thursday.