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Central Islip triple murder trial delayed by refusal to testify

Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three

Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three bodies were found by crew responding to a fire. (Aug. 11, 2009) Credit: James Carbone

The end of a lengthy triple murder trial in Suffolk County Court has been delayed because federal probation officers have refused to comply with a subpoena to testify as witnesses for one of the defendants.

Thomas Singletary, one of two men charged with first-degree murder and arson, wants his former probation officers, Edward Kanaley and Trevor Reid, to tell a jury he was complying with the rules the day after the Aug. 11, 2009, crime and a couple of weeks before. Judge James Hudson signed a subpoena for defense attorney Daniel Russo of Westhampton Beach, but the officers and their supervisor say they don't have to obey it.

"There is no legal authority requiring the federal judiciary or any of its employees to comply with your subpoena," Chief U.S. Probation Officer Eileen Kelly wrote to Russo. ". . . Thus, your subpoena is improper and unenforceable, and I respectfully request that you withdraw it."

The development comes at the end of a trial that began more than three months ago with jury selection. Singletary and Hasan Vaughan, both 36 and of Central Islip, are accused of torturing, stabbing, shooting and strangling Vaughan's girlfriend, Katrice Daniels, 31; her sister Mykier Daniels, 28; and Mykier Daniels' friend Louis Calixto Jr., 19.

Prosecutors say Vaughan sought revenge against the victims for stealing his laptop and jewelry, and that he recruited Singletary to help. The two men are being tried together but with separate juries. Testimony in the case against Vaughan concluded Wednesday.

Thursday, Russo told Hudson he wanted to do "whatever is required legally to force these individuals to respond to the subpoena."

Russo said the officers will show the connection between Vaughan and Singletary is slight. Both juries have heard that Singletary was in a car driven by Vaughan when he fled police and resisted arrest July 23.

"These witnesses would testify that Mr. Singletary was doing what he was supposed to do," Russo said. Hudson delayed the end of the case until Tuesday to see if the officers could be called to court.

But Hudson and Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla warned that if Russo succeeds at getting the officers into court, it could backfire.

"You walk a fine line, counselor," Hudson said. At the moment, Hudson has precluded testimony about Singletary's extensive criminal record, including a federal conviction for a violent home invasion.

If Hudson finds the point of the testimony is to show Singletary was peaceful and law-abiding, he said he could allow Biancavilla to show otherwise.

Biancavilla said he presented the July 23 incident to show the defendants knew each other.

"It explains why both their DNA was found in blood and skin at a scene where three people had been tortured and slaughtered," he said.

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