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Defendants move closer to trial in Demitiri Hampton murder case


Four suspects charged in the 2013 murder of beloved Riverhead High School graduate and Suffolk County Community College student Demitri Hampton are likely to face trial in 2017, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Hampton was killed in a botched home invasion in Flanders in late January 2013, when masked armed men stormed into the house during the early morning hours, according to police investigators. Mr. Hampton confronted the attackers and was shot in the chest, police said.

After more than two years, police arrested three people — Corry Wallace of Riverhead; Michael Parrish of Coram; and Danielle Hall of Calverton — in connection with the murder. A fourth suspect, 28-year-old Messiah Booker, was later arrested while incarcerated upstate. Prosecutors say Mr. Booker fired the fatal shot.

All four suspects are charged with second-degree murder and first-degree burglary, a felony.

A pre-trial hearing for Ms. Hall was completed last month, while Mr. Booker’s court case didn’t require a hearing, according to assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock.

On Friday, pre-trial hearings in Mr. Wallace’s case wrapped up in Suffolk County criminal court, marking another step closer toward a resolution in the court proceedings. At issue were video statements made to detectives after Mr. Wallace was arrested. His defense attorney, Richard Stafford of Bohemia, had argued that Mr. Wallace had tried to ask for an attorney during the interrogation, but Mr. Kurtzrock said the defendant never “unequivocally invoked” his right to an attorney.

Judge Richard Ambro agreed with prosecutors and deemed the video admissible at trial. Mr. Stafford will, however, be able to redact certain parts of the interrogation which refer to Mr. Wallace’s prior criminal history, as not to taint the jury’s perception of him.

Mr. Hampton’s mother, Juanita Trent, sat quietly in the audience during the hearing, just as she has for every turn in the four defendant’s court cases. Other family members had attended an earlier hearing, she said, but became emotional and demanded Mr. Wallace confess; a judge had asked them to leave, she said.

Ms. Trent said it was hard to believe it’s been nearly four years since her son was killed. “It seems like it was yesterday,” she said. Still, she says her faith has helped her through her grief. She refuses to let the details of the trial bother her or keep her up with nightmares.

“I don’t let them take over my life,” she said. Instead, she said, she prays — for her son, for a quick resolution to the case and even for those locked in jail.

Mr. Kurtzrock said the courts will still need to determine if Mr. Parrish’s case requires pre-trial hearings. After that, prosecutors will decide whether to try the defendants as a group or try them in a particular order. Barring a guilty plea, trials are expected to start in spring 2017, he said.

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Photo caption: Demitri Hampon appeared on the cover of a Suffolk County Community College campus magazine in 2012. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)