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Bronx man admits role in killing during botched robbery

After six years and two hung juries, a Bronx man Thursday admitted his role in a killing during a botched robbery on a West Babylon street.

David Belton, 27, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder in the 2009 death of Michael Sinclair of Brooklyn -- and in the process confirmed much of what Suffolk prosecutors had tried to prove during Belton's two previous trials.

In return for his plea, state Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro agreed to sentence Belton to 10 years in prison. Belton will get credit for the five years he's already spent in custody.

Prosecutors tried Belton in 2011 and again last year, with juries in both trials unable to reach a verdict.

During questioning Thursday by Assistant District Attorney Nancy Clifford in Riverhead, Belton described a plan, which he said was orchestrated by his friend Daniel Rivera, to drive Sinclair from Brooklyn to Suffolk County and rob him.

He said Rivera gave him a gun before the trip.

Belton said that he, Rivera and Rivera's girlfriend, Noriella Santos, got out of two cars on Kellum Street, where Belton held the gun and demanded jewelry from Sinclair but got nothing.

Belton said Rivera then took the gun and shot Sinclair several times before the three fled. Sinclair, 32, died on the street with his wallet in his hand, police officers testified at the trials.

Belton said he then drove Rivera's car back to the city, receiving money from Rivera when he returned it.

"I don't recall the amount," Belton said, glancing briefly at his parents in the courtroom.

"It solidifies our belief that Rivera was behind this," Clifford said afterward.

Rivera has not been arrested in connection with the crime, and Clifford would not say if there are plans to arrest him.

Santos is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder in the case.

Because Belton's plea is not part of a cooperation agreement, his description of what happened will have no effect on any case against Santos or Rivera, Clifford said.

Belton's attorney, Ira Weissman of Central Islip, said the prosecution's offer of 10 years was too attractive to pass up, particularly since Belton already has spent five years in jail.

"The people made him an offer he couldn't refuse," Weissman said. "His family wants him home. That's a tremendous consideration."


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