As Suffolk County Police Officer Michael Richardsen began patting down Jeffrey Conroy down for the second time, the then-17-year-old asked to speak to the officer away from the six other teenagers detained by police minutes after the fatal stabbing of an Ecuadorean immigrant in Patchogue.
Richardsen said he retrieved a black folding knife from Conroy's waistband. "I said, 'There's blood on this.' He paused for a minute and he said, 'I stabbed him,' " he testified.
The alleged admission came on the third day of testimony in the closely watched trial of Conroy, 19, of Medford, who is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter, both as hate crimes, for the Nov. 8, 2008, killing of Marcelo Lucero.
Conroy is one of seven former Patchogue-Medford High School students charged with gang assault and conspiracy in connection with Lucero's death, the culmination of what prosecutors say was a yearlong spree of attacks on Latinos. He is the only one facing the more serious charges.
Photographs of the knife that Suffolk prosecutors say was used to kill Lucero were displayed for the first time during Richardsen's testimony. The folding knife had a black, curved handle and a thick blade several inches long, with a serrated edge. In one photo, red liquid that appeared to be blood lines the tip of the blade.
Under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell, Richardsen testified that after officers detained Conroy and six other teenagers at the intersection of South Ocean Avenue and Main Street in Patchogue, he did a pat-down on Conroy and did not find any weapons.
Richardsen said Conroy appeared nervous. "He was fidgeting and he wasn't staying in line," he said.
As Richardsen handcuffed Conroy and began patting him down again, he asked the teen if he had anything on him. "He motioned to me, towards the curb, which is about four feet away, and asked if I could speak to him alone," he said.
It was there that Conroy told Richardsen to look under his sweatshirt, and he found the knife in his waistband, Richardsen testified.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge, Richardsen said he had not noticed the knife during previous pat-downs of Conroy. "He was wearing a bulky sweatshirt, so I didn't feel anything," he said.
During cross-examination, he said he did not see any blood on Conroy's clothing or shoes and that he had never asked Conroy if the knife was his.
Suffolk County Police Officer Jason LaRosa also testified Monday, saying during a search of the area where the defendants were detained he found a second knife in a garbage can.
Jose Pacheco, 19, of East Patchogue, pleaded guilty last year to the top charge of first-degree gang assault in connection with Lucero's death. He admitted he had received a knife earlier on Nov. 8, 2008, from Conroy, though he said it belonged to someone else.Conroy has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He is the first person to stand trial for murder as a hate crime on Long Island. If convicted, he faces 20 years to life in prison on the murder charge, and eight to 25 years in prison on the manslaughter charge.
Testimony continues Tuesday