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Wyandanch teen convicted in gang killing

Family members of Gabriel Hubbard leave the courtroom

Family members of Gabriel Hubbard leave the courtroom in Riverhead in tears after Hubbard was found guilty in murder of Jaquan Jones. (May 8, 2012) Credit: James Carbone

A Wyandanch teenager was convicted Tuesday of murder in a gang shooting, unleashing a flood of emotion from jurors and relatives of the victim and the defendant.

As Gabriel Hubbard's sister doubled over in sobs after he was found guilty of killing Jaquan Jones in July 2008, Jones' cousin, Orteria Dennis, bolted from her courtroom seat and threw up her hands in exultation. Several jurors burst into tears, too.

Hubbard, now 19, was convicted of climbing into a tree with an assault rifle and shooting Jones, 18, and others. Witnesses said Hubbard, a member of the OTO, or Overly Thugged Out, street gang, had been beaten in a street fight by Jones and other members of the rival Brave Hearts gang earlier that day.

Soon after the shooting, he moved to North Carolina with family members, but Suffolk police tracked him down and arrested him in 2010.

"I want to thank God, first," said Jones' mother, Patricia Jones, after the verdict. "I want to thank Det. [Ronald] Tavares and the Suffolk County Police Department, along with [Assistant District Attorney] Raphael Pearl, for seeking justice for our son. We've waited almost four years for this day, and I never gave up faith that this day would come."

Dennis, who said she's studying criminal justice at Farmingdale State College, said the verdict renewed her faith in the justice system.

Defense attorney Jason Bassett said Hubbard's family was "devastated." He said his client would appeal.

Jurors deliberated 16 hours over three days. The verdict came less than an hour after Judge Martin Efman, in response to a note saying they were deadlocked, told them to continue deliberating with an open mind.

The case against Hubbard hung on a three-page confession he signed in North Carolina and testimony about the street fight from numerous witnesses with extensive arrest records.

"It was a difficult case," Pearl said. "Reluctant witnesses made it a tough case."

"It was so hard," said one juror afterward. She and other jurors declined to give their names.

Because he was 15 at the time of the murder, he will face a maximum of 15 years to life in prison when he is sentenced June 7.

An earlier version of this story misspelled the murder victim's first name and misidentified a relative. Orteria Dennis is the cousin of Jaquan Jones, who was shot to death in 2008.

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