A Queens jury late Wednesday began deliberating the fate of accused cop killer Demetrius Blackwell, the Queens man on trial for the killing of NYPD Officer Brian Moore in 2015.
After about three and half hours of summations by prosecutors and the defense, Queens State Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak spent an hour instructing jurors on the law and had them begin deliberations shortly before 5 p.m. Blackwell, 37, is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the killing of Moore, 25, of Plainedge, who died two days after he was shot in the head on May 2, 2015.
Blackwell also is charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder for shooting at Moore’s partner, Officer Eric Jansen, who was unharmed. He is charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.
Prosecutors told the jury that Moore was shot after he and Jansen, suspicious of Blackwell’s actions on a Queens Village street, pulled their unmarked police car up to him.
“Police. You got something?,” Moore asked Blackwell as the police car stopped, according to evidence at the trial.
“Yeah. I got something,” Blackwell answered the moment before he pulled out a handgun and fired from five feet away into Moore’s head, prosecutors said in court during the trial.
During his summation, Queens Executive Assistant District Attorney Daniel Saunders told the jury: “Brian Moore was killed because he was a police officer. There is no other reason.”
A key element of the first-degree murder charge is that Blackwell knew or reasonably should have known that Moore and Jansen were cops since they had their police badges out and wore bullet resistant vests when he fired three shots. The first shot is believed to have struck Moore in the head, the second the metal post in the police car, fragmenting in the process and sending a piece into Moore’s face. The third round, was fired over a stooping Jansen and struck a house on the block, prosecutors said.
Lasak told the jurors that if they find Blackwell guilty of first-degree murder, they are to consider whether he acted under “extreme emotional disturbance,” an affirmative defense that if proved would lower the conviction to first-degree manslaughter. If Blackwell is found not guilty of first-degree murder, the jury will then consider second-degree murder and the same defense. The same procedure is to be followed in the attempted murder charges involving Jansen, Lasak said.
Blackwell’s attorney David Bart emphasized the emotional disturbance defense, arguing to jurors that there was evidence his client’s paranoia — stoked by drug use, epilepsy and head injuries — caused a lack of self control during the shooting and undercut the idea he intended to kill. Bart also said the case of attempted murder on Jansen was “very weak.”
Outside the courthouse, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch called the emotional disturbance defense a “fairy tale.”