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Trial begins for man in Coram chopped-up bodies case

Police mug shot of Darren Lynch. (Undated)

Police mug shot of Darren Lynch. (Undated) Credit: Handout

Opening arguments began Tuesday afternoon in the murder trial of a Queens man charged with killing two men over a drug deal gone bad, then chopping up their bodies and burying them in Coram in 2008.

Darren Lynch, 29, of Middle Village, faces first-degree and second-degree murder charges in the deaths of Joseph Odierno, 35, of Miller Place, and Jairo Santos, 22, of Washington Heights, who was a student at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville. Lynch also was charged with kidnapping.

Lynch will be tried along with an alleged accomplice, James R. Wall, 30, of Coram, who is charged with second-degree murder and kidnapping.

The trial is being heard by State Supreme Court Justice Robert W. Doyle in Riverhead.

Prosecutors said Lynch became angry on July 16, 2008, when Odierno, Santos and a third man sold him fake cocaine. Lynch and Wall abducted the men and held them at gunpoint while driving to Washington Heights in a failed attempt to find the dealer who sold them the bogus coke, prosecutors said. The third man, whom police did not identify, escaped.

Lynch shot Odierno and Santos in his Queens apartment on July 17 and chopped up the bodies using a power saw and hacksaw, prosecutors and police said. Lynch packed their body parts in plastic bags and bins, then buried them at his mother's house in Coram and in a nearby sump, prosecutors said.

Lynch's live-in girlfriend, Leah Reynolds, 22, pleaded guilty in May to charges of weapons possession and hindering prosecution. She is expected to testify at trial.

Reynolds helped hide the guns Lynch used to kill the victims at her parents' home in Holtsville, prosecutors and police said.

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