In Peter Figoski case, Kevin Santos guilty of second-degree murder

Kevin Santos, 32, of Queens, is guilty of Kevin Santos, 32, of Queens, is guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski of West Babylon, a Brooklyn jury decided Wednesday. (May 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

advertisement | advertise on newsday

A Brooklyn jury convicted the final defendant Wednesday of murder in the slaying of NYPD Officer Peter Figoski of West Babylon, who was killed during a 2011 burglary.

Figoski's mother, Mary Anne, 79, sitting with the slain officer's father, Frank, 80, and two of his son's four daughters, covered her mouth with her hands and cried as the guilty verdict was delivered against Kevin Santos, 32, of Queens.

The verdict came after three hours of deliberations over two days. Santos was the last of the crew of five Ozone Park men charged with killing Figoski, 47, when he walked in on their robbery of a petty drug dealer in the basement of a Brooklyn home on Dec. 12, 2011.

Justice Alan Marrus set sentencing for June 20 in State Supreme Court. Santos faces a minimum of 15 years to life in prison on the murder conviction. He was also convicted on the lesser count of first-degree burglary.

The only evidence the jurors asked to review during their deliberations was the two video statements Santos made to a prosecutor after his arrest. Defense attorney Harold Baker contended that detectives and prosecutors eager to make arrests in the case had coerced Santos into a false confession.

In the first video, Santos said he never entered the home, but he admitted in the second video he was inside. Prosecutors said that made him a burglar and legally responsible for the murder of Figoski, 47, who was shot by one of the fleeing robbers.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Outside court Wednesday, Figoski's parents stood with Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, who praised the jury for its "courage."

"Today we are extremely pleased. Today was a relief for the Figoski family. It doesn't make it better. It doesn't make it go away. But it guarantees these mutts will not kill another police officer. It guarantees that citizens of this city won't be abused by these monsters while they're going home at night," he said. The parents did not comment.

Minutes earlier, about two dozen police officers in the hallway applauded as prosecutors Kenneth Taub and Howard Jackson walked from the courtroom.

Lynch, other PBA officials and Figoski family members have attended many of the trial sessions in the case.

Two other men were convicted of murder: Lamont Pride, 28, who fired the fatal shot, and Nelson Morales, 28, who was convicted last week by a separate jury in the same courtroom as Santos.

@Newsday

The getaway driver was acquitted, and the fifth man, Ariel Tejada, 24, pleaded guilty and accepted a sentence of 18 years to life in return for his testimony.

All the men lived near each other in Ozone Park and often smoked marijuana together. Morales, often working with Tejada, was the ringleader of loose-knit group that robbed drug dealers and other criminals. The house they targeted for the ill-fated robbery, 25 Pine St., was owned by an uncle of Morales, and he had warned his cohorts that the upper floors where his father lived were off limits.

With Gary Dymski

You also may be interested in: