Witness unable to identify intruders in fatal Flanders home invasion
A witness to a fatal 2013 Flanders home invasion was unable to identify any of the intruders during testimony in the trial of the accused gunman Tuesday.
Eric Walker, 48, said he was sleeping at about 3 a.m. in the Priscilla Avenue home where he lived with his girlfriend, Latisha Diego, when he heard men break into the home. One of them came into his room and pointed a shotgun at him and Ms. Diego, he said.
Mr. Walker, who said the intruder was wearing a mask and black clothing and stood between 5-foot-nine-inches to 6-feet tall, told them to sit on the bed and “don’t move.”
“I told Latisha to chill out,” Mr. Walker said, adding that he and Ms. Diego stayed sitting on the bed during the ordeal.
Mr. Walker said he heard a noise coming from the kitchen area. “I thought they were ransacking the house,” he said.
It turned out to be a struggle between one of the intruders and 21-year-old Demitri Hampton, who had been awake at the time of the break-in, and who was shot and killed in the struggle.
Mr. Walker said he heard “two or three gunshots.”
After that, Mr. Hampton came out covered in blood and stumbled into the bedroom and fell across the bed. Mr. Hampton’s girlfriend, Frances Acevedo, who lived in the basement of the home with him, tried to stop the bleeding by putting towels on his chest, Mr. Walker said.
His testimony made no mention of how many intruders there were, as prior witnesses have said there were two, while others said three. Mr. Walker said he only saw the one masked intruder who pointed the gun at him.
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Much of the questioning of Mr. Walker revolved around his alleged past as a drug dealer.
He acknowledged to both assistant district attorney Glenn Kurtzrock and defense attorney Brendan Ahern that used to sell crack, but said he now works as an electrician.
Asked how long ago he sold crack, Mr. Walker initially said, “oh, back in the day.” Asked for more specifics, he said at least a year or two before the shooting on Jan. 27. 2013.
Mr. Ahern reminded him that he told detectives in February of 2013 that he stopped selling crack “six or seven years” earlier. Mr. Walker said he didn’t recall.
Mr. Booker, 32, who lived in Brentwood at the time, and three co-defendants — sister Danielle Hall, brother Corry Wallace and Michael Parrish — were each charged with second-degree murder and first-degree burglary for the 3 a.m. robbery and shooting.
Mr. Wallace pleaded guilty in exchange for testimony against Mr. Booker. Ms. Hall and Mr. Parrish are awaiting separate trials.
Mr. Ahern also asked Mr. Walker if he knew Corry Wallace. Mr. Ahern had said in his opening statement that Mr. Wallace, not Mr. Booker, fired the shot that killed Mr. Hampton.
Mr. Walker said he “knew of him,” but only met him once or twice at a friend’s house. He said he didn’t know if Mr. Wallace was a crack user.
Mr. Ahern attempted to ask if the intruders had asked if there were drugs in the room, but Mr. Kurtzrock objected, and the objection was sustained by Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge John Collins.
Mr. Walker did say there was only $150 in the house at the time. He said he never sold drugs from his house, only doing so “on the streets.” Mr. Walker also acknowledged that he has won several large Lottery prizes in the past, something his girlfriend mentioned in her testimony last week.
Mr. Kurtzrock confirmed outside courtroom that Mr. Wallace’s lottery winnings have been confirmed by investigators.
FORENSICS EXPERTS TESTIFY
Three experts from the Suffolk County Crime Lab also testified Tuesday, as did a former identification section officer from the Suffolk County Police Department.
Detective Daniel Fitzpatrick, who worked in the identification section in 2013, said Mr. Hampton’s fingerprints were found on his cellphone, which was the only useable print he recovered.
Jurors were shown a video of the crime scene, which showed blood stains on the wall of the kitchen and the bedroom Mr. Hampton stumbled into after being shot in the chest, as well as a gunshot in a ceiling tile.
Mr. Ahern asked if they were able to detect fingerprints on bullets that have been fired.
Det. Fitzpatrick said he has never gotten a useful fingerprint from an exploded bullet casing.
“I’ve tried a couple hundred times, at least,” he said.
Later on, Joseph Galdi, a supervisor at the Suffolk Crime Lab’s Biological Sciences Section, testified that the only blood found at the scene was that of Mr. Hampton.
The case is scheduled to continue Wednesday with testimony from Suffolk County Police Homicide Detective Brendan O’Hara. He is expected to be the prosecution’s final witness.