A day after Suffolk prosecutors dropped a murder charge against a Central Islip man, he admitted Wednesday that he had sex with an 11-year-old girl and fathered her child.
Jeffry Rosales, 31, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape hours after jury selection began in the case before Suffolk County Court Judge Barbara Kahn. As part of an agreement with Suffolk prosecutors, Kahn will sentence Rosales to 17 years in prison.
One day earlier, Rosales had faced as much as 50 years to life in prison. He also had been charged with predatory sexual assault against a child, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison, and second-degree murder, which has the same maximum sentence.
Rosales was charged in June 2013 with the shotgun killing of Keenan Russell, 21, in Central Islip in May 2013. Prosecutors were vague then about the extent of Rosales' involvement in the shooting and suggested it may have been part of a gang initiation rite.
When Rosales was indicted, prosecutors said Russell was shot as he came out of a party by three people and that although Rosales was not the shooter, he was an active participant in the crime.
But late Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla asked Kahn to dismiss the murder charge, saying that federal authorities had arrested someone else who took responsibility for the crime and said Rosales had nothing to do with it.
"As such, we would be unable to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt," Biancavilla said.
He said the identity of Russell's killer was sealed. A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in the Eastern District said she had no information on the case.
Rosales' attorney, Robert Macedonio of Central Islip, said his client "is greatly relieved to have the murder charges dismissed. He is finally glad to see the truth come out."
The sex crime charges were a separate matter. When Rosales initially refused a plea offer yesterday morning, Kahn began jury selection.
The evidence in that case was overwhelming, Macedonio acknowledged. It included the child Rosales fathered, whose DNA established Rosales as the father. But it also included many recorded jail phone calls between Rosales and family members and the girl herself, now 13, in which he acknowledged fathering the child with her.
"Mr. Rosales is satisfied with the plea, given the weight of the evidence against him," Macedonio said.
Rosales also faces a 4-year sentence in federal court on a robbery charge.