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Witness in Shawn Lawrence murder trial testifies he saw shooting

The murder prosecution of Shawn Lawrence, 42, of

The murder prosecution of Shawn Lawrence, 42, of North Amityville, is one of several complicated by the fallout from the shooting of cabdriver Thomas Moroughan. Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

An Amityville man with a shoplifting habit told a Suffolk jury Friday that while he was anxiously waiting for his next delivery of crack cocaine, he saw another man shooting into a minivan.

James Jones, 42, testified Friday in the trial of Shawn Lawrence that he had been up for 20 hours smoking crack when he looked out the window of an apartment he was visiting in Andpress Plaza in North Amityville and recognized Allen McGhee and Lawrence, 42, as two of the people shooting into the minivan. When the shooting was done, James Terry, 44, was dead, David Hodges had severe brain damage and Ralph Council Jr., 49, had been shot in the buttocks.

Jones said he went to the window when he heard the shots shortly after 11 p.m. on Jan. 12, 2010. He said he knew Lawrence, of North Amityville, and McGhee were two of the shooters because he'd known them for decades.

McGhee has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and is serving 12 years in prison. Lawrence is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder, and faces 40 years to life if convicted.

During cross-examination by defense attorney Joseph Hanshe of Sayville, Jones acknowledged that he took two years to tell that story, recanted it, took back his recantation, recanted it again and now is back to his original story.

But he told Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock that this version is the truth.

"It took a lot to come in here today," Jones said. "James Terry was a good guy. This is the way it has to play out, man."

The first time Jones recanted his story, he said a homicide detective paid him $50 to tell him Lawrence and McGhee were involved. But Jones said that was because he was being pressured in jail.

"I was willing to say anything at that moment, because I had to live among them" in the jail, he said. "He never gave me $50. He never gave me nothing."

When Jones got out of jail, he went back to his original story, but took it back again when he returned to jail after shoplifting again.

This time, he wrote a statement saying the detective pressured him whenever he got arrested and he would say whatever the detective wanted.

Later, after a brief argument with his client, Hanshe showed Jones surveillance video of the shooting and asked him to tell the jury where he was and if he recognized any of the attackers.

"I can't make it out good," Jones said, peering at the screen and struggling to recognize the apartment complex he said he knew well.

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