2 admit robbing slain Chinese deliveryman

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Two of the five teenagers accused of robbing and murdering a Chinese food delivery man in Springfield Gardens last year pleaded guilty Tuesday to robbery charges in a plea bargain deal. The 14-year-old teen accused of striking the fatal blow will be tried for murder.

James Stone, 17, and Darryl Tyson, 18, both from Springfield Gardens, accepted a plea bargain arrangement from the Queens district attorney’s office in the Sept. 1, 2000 robbery and murder of Jin Sheng Liu, 44, in a secluded Springfield Gardens cul-de-sac.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert Hanophy said Stone and Tyson would be sentenced to 17 years in jail Sept. 7. They will be eligible for parole in 14 1/2 years, said Stone’s attorney, Victor Knapp.

Stone appeared in court wearing jeans and a gray Peanuts T-shirt with the phrase “candy bars are like years, we’re paying more, but they’re getting shorter” written on the back. Tyson wore a white shirt and khaki pants.

Both teens were in handcuffs at all times in court except to sign their plea agreements.

A 15-year-old defendant from Springfield Gardens was not offered a plea bargain by the district attorney’s office because he is accused of hitting the victim in the head with a brick and killing him.

The 15-year-old, who was 14 at the time of the killing, is being tried as an adult Nov. 1 for murder in the second degree but faces a lighter sentence than an older defendant would. He faces nine years to life in jail if convicted, instead of 25 years to life.

A fourth defendant, Jamel Murphy, 18, of Springfield Gardens, made a deal with the district attorney’s office to testify for the prosecution in the 15-year-old’s trial, according to Stone’s lawyer, Knapp, and Tyson’s attorney, Neville Reid.

The district attorney’s office could not confirm or deny that a deal had been made with Murphy, who has already pleaded guilty to robbery. It is not yet known what sentence Murphy will receive.

The fifth defendant, Stacy Royster, 17, of Rosedale, was due in court Tuesday for a psychiatric report, but her hearing was delayed until Sept. 19.

On Sept. 1, 2000, the teens were gathered at Tyson’s house in a middle-class neighborhood of Springfield Gardens when they hatched the plan to get Chinese food without paying for it, prosecutors said.

Royster’s alleged role in the robbery was to use her cell phone to call the Golden Wok restaurant on Linden Boulevard in St. Albans and order $60 worth of food, Stone and Tyson told the court as part of their guilty plea.

Steven Antignani, the assistant district attorney handling the case, led Stone and Tyson through a series of questions about the robbery and the attack on Liu. He asked Stone and Tyson to describe what they did and what each of their co-defendants did on the night of Sept. 1, 2000.

When the store’s owner, Liu, arrived in front of 130-35 176th St. in Springfield Gardens, Royster was sitting on the steps of an unoccupied house, according to Tyson and Stone.

When she approached the delivery man, Tyson came up behind Liu and either bumped or grabbed him while Stone attempted to throw a sheet over the man’s head, Tyson and Stone said.

The sheet failed to cover Liu’s head and a scuffle ensued, Tyson and Stone said. The 15-year-old defendant hit Liu with a brick, striking him on the head, Tyson and Stone said.

During the scuffle, Murphy was in the street holding a brick, according to Stone and statements from the other defendants, Antignani said.

During his testimony Tuesday, Tyson first said he saw Murphy hitting Liu with a brick, but then changed his story after Antignani questioned his honesty and gave him the opportunity to speak privately with his lawyer.

Tyson then said he did not see Murphy hit Liu with a brick.

Reid declined to comment on Tyson’s statements except to say: “My client wanted to be as honest as possible throughout the entire process.”

Liu was a Chinese immigrant who was living with his wife and teenage son and daughter in the back of his St. Albans store. When he died, his family remained in the cockroach-infested back room for several months before finding government-subsidized housing in Manhattan.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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