Shooting suspects get support from friends, family at court appearances Friday

02/15/2013 2:14 PM |
Drive-by shooting suspects

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Eric Baldwin Jr., Jasmine Parsons and Jeffrey Despeine.

A mother sobbed in court as she watched her 21-year-old son, wearing a green jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him, appear before a Riverhead judge Friday to answer to felony gun charges.

Her son, Jeffrey Despeines of Centereach, is one of four people accused of shooting up a Third Street house that was filled with adults and two small children Wednesday night.

A woman who identified herself as a close friend of another suspect, Jasmine Parsons, also sat in the audience.

“She’s a good person. She’s loving. She has a job,” the woman told a reporter. “She just got caught up in the wrong situation with the wrong people.”

Three of the four suspects, Mr. Despeines; Ms. Parsons, 19, of Mastic; and Eric Baldwin Jr., 18, of Bellport; appeared in Town Justice Court for continued arraignment proceedings Friday, a day after bail was initially set for them Thursday.

The fourth suspect, Jordan Harrell, 18, of Medford will be back in court Tuesday.

The three suspects were not required to enter a plea on their felony charges. A Suffolk County grand jury will be reviewing the case Tuesday, Feb. 19, prosecutors said.

Mr. Baldwin pleaded not guilty to fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor.

Prosecutors said Mr. Despeines was the shooter in the drive-by, allegedly firing seven rounds into the two-family house. He was charged with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree reckless endangerment, all felonies.

His bail, originally set at $250,000 cash or $750,000 bond on Thursday, was modified to $100,000 cash or $250,000 bond Friday after a lawyer argued on his behalf.

The court-appointed attorney, Carl Irace of East Hampton, said Mr. Despeines has no prior criminal record.

“He has a very concerned family, and a impeccable work record,” Mr. Irace told a reporter after court.

Mr. Baldwin was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony, for his alleged involvement in the shooting, along with the misdemeanor fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon charge because police say they found brass knuckles on him.

His lawyer told the judge Mr. Baldwin has “strong ties to the community” and works full-time at a thrift store

Mr. Baldwin was held on $100,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond. Justice Smith modified his bond to $200,000, leaving cash bail set at $100,000.

Assistant district attorney William Nash had argued the bail amounts set Thursday should stay in place, due to the charges’ “serious nature,” adding also that some of the suspects are believed to have gang affiliations.

Ms. Parsons’ waived her right to appear in court Friday, said her attorney, Daniel Barker of Riverhead, saying he wanted the opportunity to speak with Ms. Parsons in private first.

He did not ask for a bail modification.

Although all four suspects appeared in court Thursday, authorities had not yet found lawyers to represent all of them during the initial proceedings.

cmiller@timesreview.com

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