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Detective: Phone records, video surveillance show defendant’s path

05/04/2017 12:00 PM |

A Suffolk County police homicide detective on Wednesday showed a jury cell phone data combined with video surveillance that suggests a possible path a suspect took the night of a 2013 home invasion that left a Flanders man dead.

Detective Brendan O’Hara told the jury Wednesday during testimony in the murder trial of Messiah Booker, 32, that he requested Mr. Booker’s cell phone call records as part of the homicide investigation, as well as that of Cory Wallace, 48, and Danielle Hall, 37, both of whom are also charged in connection to the case.

Mr. O’Hara took excerpts of those call records from 8 p.m. Jan. 26, 2013 to 5 a.m. the next morning. The home invasion took place at 3 a.m.

The data shows the date and time of the calls, the cell towers that pinged them, and the phone numbers.

The detective had a map created at the district attorney’s office showing where the nearest cell sites were in relation to “several key locations” in the trial, including Mr. Booker’s home, to addresses associated with Ms. Hall, two locations associated with another suspect, Michael Parrish, the Swiss Motel on Main Street in Riverhead, as well as Mr. Wallace’s residence.

One cell tower, indicated by a red dot on the map, was the the Flanders Fire Department on Firehouse Lane, the nearest location to the Priscilla Avenue home where Demitri Hampton was killed, about a mile away, Mr. O’Hara said.

The call records show a call was made between Mr. Booker’s phone and Mr. Wallace’s phone, connected to the tower closest to the shooting at 2:54 a.m., Mr. O’Hara said. A call was also made to Mr. Booker’s phone from Ms. Hall’s phone at 2:55 a.m. and connected to the same tower.

A call between Mr. Booker and Mr. Wallace’s phones at 3:01 a.m. started and ended connected to the firehouse tower, Mr. O’Hara told the jury. A second call between the two, who are brothers, began at 3:18 a.m. connected to the same tower and ended with a connection to a tower on Route 58 in Riverhead, he said. Mr. Wallace had previously testified that he called Mr. Booker after the shooting to inform him the headlights were off in the vehicle he was traveling in, but the call went to voicemail.

Mr. O’Hara showed a map detailing Mr. Wallace’s four calls that were made.


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Assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock played video surveillance from USA Deli and Grocery and the Shamrock gas station on Flanders Road, as well as the Shell and Valero gas stations at the traffic circle on that road.

Mr. O’Hara noted the videos show two vehicles, a sedan followed by a small SUV, traveling west between 3:18 a.m. and 3:21 a.m. The sedan’s headlights were off as the vehicles passed the deli, the location closest to Priscilla Avenue, but were on as it passes the other three locations to the west, he noted as the videos played.

Mr. Kurtzrock asked if there was any attempts to enhance the videos, but Mr. O’Hara said the quality was “too poor” and filled too small a portion of the screen to do so.

The jury was then shown another map that combined the cell tower locations and the deli and gas stations. Again, Mr. O’Hara said a 3:18 a.m. call from Mr. Wallace’s phone to Mr. Booker’s connected to the firehouse cell tower and ended connected to a tower to the west, on Route 58.

The detective pointed to the map, which showed three calls, one at 3:20 a.m. and two at 3:21 a.m., between the men’s phones connected to a Pulaski Street cell tower, west of the other sites, near the Swiss Motel, where Mr. Wallace previously testified he was staying for the week.

On Friday, the trial will address Mr. O’Hara’s memo book and all paperwork created by an assisting detective in the case, documents defense attorney Brendan Ahern requested and received Wednesday.

CORRECTION: The first name of Detective Brendan O’Hara was previously listed incorrectly.

Photo caption: The cell tower behind the Flanders firehouse. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

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