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Teen charged in Lucero slaying pleads guilty

Christopher Overton appears in court in Riverhead on

Christopher Overton appears in court in Riverhead on Jan. 28, 2009. Photo Credit: AP

Christopher Overton, the East Patchogue teenager that Jeffrey Conroy tried to blame for the 2008 stabbing death of Marcelo Lucero, pleaded guilty Tuesday to gang assault in connection with the Ecuadorean immigrant's death and hate-crime charges in attacks on two other Latino men.

Conroy, 19, of Medford, who was convicted last month of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in Lucero's killing and other charges, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday by State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle in Riverhead. He could spend up to 25 years in prison.

The guilty plea by Overton, 17, leaves Anthony Hartford, 18, of Medford, as the last of the so-called Patchogue 7 still awaiting trial.

Hartford has pleaded not guilty to gang assault, conspiracy and other charges.

Conroy and Overton were among a group of teens that assaulted Lucero, 37, of Patchogue, on Nov. 8, 2008, during a spree of attacks on Latinos," prosecutors have said.

At the time of Lucero's death, Overton was on probation awaiting sentencing for his role in a 2007 home invasion that ended in an East Patchogue man's death.

Conroy testified at his trial it was Overton who stabbed Lucero with a black-handled knife. Conroy said he had taken the blame for Lucero's death when he was interviewed by police because Overton had told Conroy about his legal troubles, and Conroy said he "felt bad" for Overton.

After finding Conroy guilty, jurors said they had not believed him.

Tuesday, wearing green Suffolk jail scrubs, Overton repeated the now-familiar details of Lucero's death as he answered questions posed by Assistant District Attorney Megan O'Donnell.

When she asked who stabbed Lucero, Overton said it was Conroy.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree gang assault and fourth-degree conspiracy for the attack on Lucero.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted assault as a hate crime for attacking Lucero's friend, Angel Loja, and for an attack earlier that night on another Hispanic man, Hector Sierra.

Overton's attorney, Anthony LaPinta of Hauppauge, and his mother declined to comment.

Lucero's brother, Joselo Lucero, said he was pleased that Overton pleaded guilty.

Doyle said he would sentence Overton to no more than 7 years in prison pending the findings of a presentence report from probation officers.

Overton is scheduled for sentencing June 24 for his roles in both the Lucero case and the East Patchogue robbery, for which he faces 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to burglary.

Hartford has pleaded not guilty to gang assault, conspiracy and other charges. His attorney, Laurence Silverman of Dix Hills, could not be reached yesterday for comment.


Awaiting trial


Anthony Hartford

Age 18, of Medford

Has pleaded not guilty to first-degree gang assault, fourth-degree conspiracy, and two counts each of second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime and second-degree attempted gang assault.

Scheduled for court appearance Wednesday.

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