A blood feud that lasted decades between Palestinian families that settled in Brooklyn is behind a remarkably brutal roadside killing 31 years ago, Suffolk prosecutors argued Tuesday as a man finally went on trial in that case.
Raed Innab, now 49, is charged with second-degree murder in the Aug. 21, 1984, death of Darwish Ali Darwish, 32. Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Santomartino told jurors in his opening statement that Darwish was stabbed more than 30 times in the torso and head and clubbed repeatedly with a tire iron by the side of the Hecksher State Parkway, just north of Timber Point Road in East Islip.
"Revenge is what brings us here today," Santomartino said, as the trial got underway in Central Islip before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho.
Eight years earlier, in 1976, Darwish had shot Carl Innab, the defendant's uncle, to death. He pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and had been out of prison just eight weeks when Innab and another man took Darwish out east, Santomartino said.
"Each stab of the knife, each blow of the tire iron carried them closer to their goal of revenge," he said. The attack was so frenzied that the blade bent on one of the two fillet knives the killers used, he said.
During the attack, Santomartino said Innab cut his hand and bled onto Darwish's sock. Decades later, sophisticated DNA technology not available then linked the blood stain to Innab.
Defense attorney Craig McElwee of North Babylon said much of Santomartino's story made sense -- except for the idea that his client, just 10 years old when his uncle was killed, would act with such fury eight years later.
"They want you to believe that he murdered a guy he never met," McElwee said.
That day, Darwish went to the Innab family's deli in Brooklyn and began "ranting," McElwee said. Innab, who worked at the deli, called his mother about it and his uncle Mohammed -- now dead -- came over to take care of it, McElwee said. "Raed never saw that man again," McElwee said.
His client's blood likely ended up on Darwish's sock in the deli. He got cut either on a meat slicer or in an altercation with Darish there -- and a workers' compensation claim for the day supports that, McElwee said.
He criticized New York State Police for not seeking to do DNA testing on the evidence until 2002, and then waiting another six years to actually do the testing.
"Two suspects died in that time," he said. "They want you to believe that one spot of blood on a sock pushes the base from 'unable to arrest' to '[guilty] beyond a reasonable doubt.' "
Roy Rhein of Islip testified that he saw the attack in progress as he returned home that night. He was heading south on the parkway when headlights on the other side drew his attention. In the glow of the car's taillights, he said he saw a man on his knees, pounding something on ground.
"I thought somebody was getting a beating," he said, so he stopped and honked his horn. Two men got into the car and took off, he said.
Rhein turned around at the park entrance and found Darwish, bleeding heavily. "He was on his back, quivering," Rhein said.
Police came to the scene and found two knives -- one with a bent blade -- a bloody tire iron and about 17 square feet of blood.