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Jury convicts Jamaica man in retrial for 2002 shooting

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A Jamaica man was convicted a second time last week of shooting a 50-year-old bar owner while trying to steal his car, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Tyrone Johnson, 26, was found guilty in June 2002 of killing Leroy Vann, 50, outside Vann's Jamaica home, but a new trial began earlier this month in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens after the initial prosecutor on the case withheld the whereabouts of a witness who said she saw the shooting.

Johnson, of 153-15 122nd Ave. in Jamaica, was convicted of murder, two counts of attempted robbery and two weapons charges by a jury after they deliberated for six hours, Brown said. Johnson was scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 3.

"The jury has again found the defendant guilty of causing the death of Leroy Vann by shooting him with a handgun," Brown said in a statement. "Its verdict replicated the jury's verdict in the previous trial and both verdicts were entirely justified by the evidence."

The possibility of the retrial arose in November, when Brown learned that Claude Stuart, the prosecutor assigned to the case, had said he did not know where to find Shanese Knight, the aunt of a key witness for the prosecution and a witness to the shooting. Stuart had, however, met with Knight at her office four days earlier with two detectives from the district attorney's office.

Stuart resigned from the district attorney's office in December.

According to testimony at the first trial, Johnson and an accomplice approached Vann on 112th Avenue and demanded the keys to his Jaguar in February 2000. When Vann refused, the two men threw him against the car, Brown said at the time of Johnson's conviction. Johnson and his accomplice tried to handcuff Vann, but he resisted and Johnson's weapon fired, hitting Vann in the chest, Brown had said.

Vann lived long enough to tell his mother, her health aide and a police officer the name of his shooter, Brown said.

"Justice has been done, and I hope this latest guilty verdict brings finality and solace to the Vann family, particularly the victim's mother, whose testimony at both trials was truthful, compelling and courageous," Brown said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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