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Queens man denies on witness stand that he was paid to change story on co-defendant's role in killing

Reginald Ross, 37, of Yaphank, is charged with

Reginald Ross, 37, of Yaphank, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the separate 2010 shootings of Raymond Hirt, 51, of Mastic Beach, and John Williams, 39, of Holbrook. Credit: SCPD

The Queens man who has bragged about shooting a Holbrook man to death denied Monday that he changed his story to say he did it by himself after the attorney for a co-defendant on trial sent someone to intimidate him or pay him off.

Luis Cherry, 25, testified there was little truth to what he told police, when he said he and Reginald Ross, 37, killed John Williams, 39, on Oct. 14, 2010.

Cherry was called as a defense witness at the trial of Ross, his co-defendant, whose attorney is John Scarpa Jr. Ross is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, accused of killing Williams outside his house with Cherry's help, in an attempt to lure a friend of Williams to his funeral and kill that man, too.

Ross, of Yaphank, also is accused of shooting to death road flagman Raymond Hirt, 51, of Mastic Beach, on May 24, 2010, at a construction site in Ronkonkoma, because he believed Hirt had delayed him days earlier at the construction site and had called him a racial slur.

State Supreme Court Justice William Condon is trying the case without a jury.

During his cross-examination of Cherry, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla suggested that Scarpa had sent an employee to prison to either pay or intimidate Cherry into changing his story again.

Cherry, who is serving 63 years to life in prison for the Williams murder and another in Queens, acknowledged that the only person to visit him when he was at the Downstate Correctional Facility in Fishkill was Charles "T.A." Gallman, Scarpa's employee. Cherry said he didn't know Gallman's "government name" and couldn't recall how long he'd known him, but said he met with him for more than an hour.

Cherry denied that Gallman wanted to talk about what happens to informants in prison, or that Gallman said he'd been sent by Ross or Scarpa to deliver a message. Cherry also denied that Gallman said he would be paid or protected in prison for testifying for Ross.

Scarpa said Gallman, who served three years in prison for manslaughter, is a paralegal. He said he sent him to interview Cherry as a potential witness, not to intimidate him or to buy his testimony.

Later, Cherry also disavowed two letters he wrote to a previous judge who handled the case, in which he said both he and Ross were innocent and that two other people killed Williams.

"I just wanted the judge to believe [expletive]," Cherry said, dismissing the letters as lies.

"The same way you want this judge to believe [expletive]?" Biancavilla said.

Cherry didn't answer that question, and Condon urged the squabbling Biancavilla and Scarpa to "tone it down." Earlier, the two lawyers had traded words over who would win a fistfight.

"We're dealing in questions and answers here, gentlemen," Condon said. "There will be a time for summations."

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