At first, a Wyandanch woman and some visitors thought they were hearing firecrackers the night after the Fourth of July almost four years ago. But when her windows began shattering, she realized it was gunfire, she testified Tuesday in Suffolk County Court.
By the time it ended, 10 shots later, one of those visitors -- Jaquan Jones, 18 -- was dead on the ground outside, shot through the head. The witness, Josephina Aponte, testified against the teen charged with second-degree murder in Jones' death, Gabriel Hubbard, now 19.
In his opening statement before Judge Martin Efman, Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl said Hubbard climbed a tree across the street from Aponte's home on North 18th Street with an AR-15 assault rifle to settle a gang score.
"He was a gang member," Pearl said. "Worse than that, he was . . . [an] angry gang member." Pearl said Hubbard was a member of the OTOs, or Overly Thugged Outs. Jones and others visiting Aponte's home were members of the Brave Hearts, and the rival gangs had fought recently, Pearl said. Hubbard didn't fare well in the fights and felt embarrassed and disrespected, Pearl said.
When police caught up with Hubbard in 2010 in North Carolina, he told them he targeted Aponte's home because he knew it was a Brave Heart house.
But during cross-examination by defense attorney Jason Bassett of Central Islip, Aponte denied that her house was a Brave Heart hangout and said she had no idea if Jones or the other visitors that night were gang members.
In his opening statement, Bassett said the prosecution case is a "flimsy house of cards." There is no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony that ties Hubbard to the scene, he said.
All prosecutors have is a three-page statement that Hubbard signed and the word of gang members with lengthy rap sheets and suspect motives, Bassett said. None of the evidence, he said, will be compelling.
An earlier version of this story misspelled Jaquan Jones' first name.