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Riverhead jury begins deliberations in 31-year-old murder case

Raed Innab of Brooklyn is seen in this

Raed Innab of Brooklyn is seen in this 2013 mug shot provided by police. He is now 49. Credit: SCPD

The question of whether a drop of blood on a dead man's sock is enough evidence to convict a Brooklyn man of a roadside murder 31 years ago is before a jury in Central Islip.

Raed Innab, now 49, is charged with second-degree murder, accused of being one of two men who clubbed Darwish Ali Darwish, 32, with a tire iron and then stabbed him about 35 times by the side of the Heckscher State Parkway in East Islip in August 1984. He wasn't arrested until 2013, when a bloodstain on Darwish's sock was matched to Innab's DNA.

During closing arguments Thursday before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, defense attorney Craig McElwee of Hauppauge told jurors the blood didn't get there during the murder, and his client didn't cut his hand on a knife during the attack, either.

Instead, McElwee said his client's role in the decades-old blood feud between the two Palestinian families began and ended in the Innab family's deli in Brooklyn that day. That's when Darwish, who had recently gotten out of prison for shooting Innab's uncle to death in 1976, showed up at the deli. McElwee said his client, who had just cut his hand on a slicer, helped shove Darwish out of the door.

McElwee said his client probably would not have been able to grip a knife after slicing a tendon in his finger.

"Is it possible?" McElwee said. "Yes. Is it [proof] beyond a reasonable doubt? Absolutely not."

He said the bloodstain was in the shape of a vertical drip, more consistent with a face-to-face standing confrontation, rather than with Darwish being stabbed while lying on the ground. He also said Innab's blood could have gotten on the sock through sloppy evidence handling over the years by State Police. More than once, Darwish's blood-soaked clothes ended up together in a single bag, where McElwee said Innab's blood on another piece of Darwish's clothing could have touched the sock.

But Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla dismissed those issues. He told jurors they couldn't believe anything Innab said about cutting his hand on a slicer, noting he had been repeatedly convicted of identity theft over the years. He said the defense was "orchestrated by a convicted liar, who has spent his life defrauding people."

He told jurors to ignore other possible theories for how the blood got on the sock.

"On my way to work today, I bought one of these," he said, pulling a lottery ticket from his shirt pocket. "Megamillion -- $37 million. Is it possible I'm going to win?" he said, as jurors laughed. "It's unlikely. We're not talking about possibilities in this case. We're talking about what's logical and likely."

What makes sense, he said, is that Innab's hand slipped onto the blade of his fillet knife while stabbing Darwish over and over and left a small amount of his blood behind.

The jury resumes deliberating Friday.

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