Prosecutors: Bullet matches gun in drive-by

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Eric Baldwin Jr., Jasmine Parsons, Jeffrey Despeines and Jordan Harrell, were all arraigned on felony reckless endangerment charges Thursday morning.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | (L-R) Eric Baldwin Jr., Jasmine Parsons, Jeffrey Despeines and Jordan Harrell, as they were led into Riverhead court Feb. 14. They were later indicted by a grand jury.

A bullet found at the scene of a Third Street drive-by shooting earlier this month matches shell casings found in the car from which four people were arrested after the shooting prosecutors said in Suffolk County criminal courtroom Wednesday.

Three of the four people arrested in connection with the shooting pleaded not guilty to felony reckless endangerment and weapons charges after being indicted by a grand jury. Eric Baldwin Jr., 18, of Bellport, Jordan Harrell, 18, of Medford, and former Riverhead resident Jasmine Parsons, 19, now of Mastic, are facing first-degree reckless endangerment charges.

Mr. Baldwin was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon after police found he had brass knuckles during his arrest.

The alleged shooter, Jeffrey Despeines, 21, of Centereach, had his arraignment moved to Friday.

Riverhead Town police responded to the house on Third Street just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 13 after hearing gunfire. A nearby officer on patrol said he saw a Ford Taurus leaving the scene of the shooting and stopped the car soon after, arresting the group on nearby Peconic Avenue, police said.

Authorities said they found spent shell casings on the floor of the car, allegedly driven by Ms. Parsons. Those casings were later matched to “at least” one bullet dug from the house, prosecutors said. Police also discovered Mr. Despeines had a spent magazine in his shirt pocket at the time of his arrest and had a loaded Smith & Wesson .38-caliber semiautomatic handgun, prosecutors said.

The assistant district attorney at Wednesday’s arraignment also revealed the registration on the gun had been defaced.

Mr. Despeines is accused of being the shooter in the drive-by, allegedly firing seven rounds into a two-family house with several adults and two young children inside.

No one was injured in the incident.

Mr. Baldwin had a prior arrest for third-degree assault in 2011 adjudicated, prosecutors said. In previous court appearances, prosecutors had said Mr. Baldwin is involved in a gang. Mr. Baldwin’s defense attorney said he lived with his parents and asked for nominal bail to be set.

Judge William Condon said Mr. Baldwin had failed to appear in court several times during his “albeit brief” criminal history. Mr. Baldwin was held in Suffolk County jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond.

Ms. Parsons, the alleged driver in the drive-by shooting, has an “extensive criminal history” including a prior conviction for attempted robbery, prosecutors said.

She is currently on probation after serving a six-month sentence. She was also held on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond.

Mr. Harrell has three pending cases in Suffolk County court, authorities said, one for endangering the welfare of a child in November 2011, one for criminal contempt in February 2011 and a pending felony assault charge from last October. He was held at Suffolk County jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond.

Mr. Despeines was scheduled to be arraigned on grand jury charges as the shooter in the drive-by, but his lawyer did not attend court Wednesday afternoon. His arraignment was rescheduled to Friday.

A friend of Ms. Parsons and the family of Mr. Harrell attended the court proceedings to support the suspects.

Toni Harrell, Mr. Harrell’s mother, said her son was helping her with groceries the day of the shooting when he told her he was going to take a ride with Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Harrell’s cousin.

She said her son didn’t know the other people in the car and rejected the prosecutor’s claim that he had an “apparent gang affiliation.”

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ms. Harrell said. “He didn’t have anything to do with this.”

Mr. Harrell will be a father in April, his mother added.

“He wants to come home to see his son born,” she said.

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