The man who rounded up some friends to kill a man in North Amityville five years ago testified Monday that the defendant now on trial in Riverhead had nothing to do with it.
Allen McGhee, 27, pleaded guilty last year to first-degree manslaughter and two counts of first-degree assault. He admitted then that he killed James Terry, 44, of North Amityville, and seriously injured David Hodges and Ralph Council Jr. in the Jan. 12, 2010, shooting.
Although he said then that Shawn Lawrence, 42, took part in the shooting, McGhee testified otherwise Monday on behalf of Lawrence at his trial. Lawrence is charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder.
"He was not with me," said McGhee, who is serving a 12-year sentence. He told defense attorney Joseph Hanshe of Sayville that he barely knew Lawrence, who is 15 years older than he is.
McGhee said he'd been arguing all day with Hodges, and he tried to disrespect him by snatching some of his food at a party. But McGhee didn't realize what he took was shrimp, to which he is allergic. So then he decided to kill Hodges, he said.
McGhee said Lawrence wasn't one of the friends with him and none of them were more than 10 inches taller than he is. McGhee is 5 feet 5 inches and Lawrence is 6 feet 4 inches.
While jurors watched surveillance video of the crime, McGhee said all the assailants were about the same height. McGhee said he stopped a minivan driven by Terry, with Hodges and Council in the back, and opened fire.
"I honestly don't know how many shots were fired," he said. "I just kept pulling the trigger."
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During cross-examination by Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, McGhee denied that Lawrence was his enforcer for drug deals. McGhee also said at first he didn't want to implicate anyone else in the crime.
"I don't care what you want," Kurtzrock said. After McGhee consulted with his attorney, Craig McElwee, he said he couldn't recall who else was involved, but he knew Lawrence wasn't one of them.
"You're a drug-dealing murderer, so I guess a little perjury isn't going to hurt," Kurtzrock said, before state Supreme Court Justice William Condon told jurors to ignore the remark.
McGhee also denied Kurtzrock's suggestion that he was testifying for Lawrence to avoid looking like a snitch while in prison.
"I already have to live with myself for killing someone I knew," McGhee said. "I don't want to take an innocent man down with me."
After McGhee left the courtroom, Lawrence squabbled with Hanshe after the lawyer said he would call no more witnesses. Condon told Lawrence that is Hanshe's decision.