Days before a Queens Supreme Court jury convicted Malcolm Thompson Wednesday of murdering a man in Pomonok Houses in 2010, they watched Assistant District Attorney Peter Lomp place several bullets on a ledge a few feet in front of their faces.
As he laid down each expired slug he named locations — the head, leg and torso — where they entered then-27-year-old Laseam Hogan before he died at about noon Oct. 15 near the corner of 71st Avenue and Kissena Boulevard.
Intent was never questioned throughout the trial, according to both Lomp and Damien Brown, the defense attorney representing Thompson. None of the shots missed.
Instead, the case came down to three reluctant witnesses and who actually pulled the trigger.
Three women said they saw Thompson, then 19 years old, shoot Hogan, but in each case the Queens district attorney’s office had to issue a subpoena to get them to testify.
In closing arguments Monday, Lomp paced around the courtroom as he delivered an impassioned final speech of the proceedings, at some points practically yelling.
He attributed the eyewitnesses’ hesitation to initially tell police they saw the shooter to an unspoken rule of reticence when it comes to crimes committed in the housing project.
“When you see something in Pomonok Houses ... you don’t say something,” he said.
Commonly referred to as no-snitch culture, it explained why two of them gave their names and numbers to a 911 operator, but did not reveal they witnessed the shooting until subsequent interviews, according to Lomp.
But Brown argued otherwise.
In contrast to Lomp, he spoke to the jurors with a calm bedside manner befitting a physician, attempting to convince them that the three women were not telling the truth, either consciously or otherwise.
“I’m not saying Jeanette Rily came in to lie on purpose,” he began one string of arguments about the witnesses’ lack of credibility.
Instead, Brown argued that another man, who was also at the scene of the crime but has not been charged with any crime by the NYPD, was the real shooter.
“Was it Malcolm Thompson or was it someone else?” he asked.
The jury decided it was Thompson after deliberating for nearly two days. He was convicted of murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Thompson faces between 25 years and life in prison when he is sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak July 24.
The trial was heavily attended by friends and family of Hogan, who squeezed themselves into benches behind the prosecution table.
Hogan’s father, the Rev. Richard Hogan, said more than 3,000 people came to his son’s funeral in 2010, many of whom used the event as a turning point in their lives.
Hogan has tried to help the community through his nonprofit promoting nonviolence and said that while he mourns the loss of his son, he derives no pleasure in seeing another young man lose his life to a jail sentence.
“I’m reflecting on two lives destroyed through anger. The young man who murdered my son was a friend,” he said after the verdict was announced. “Our family did not rejoice. We weren’t clapping. It was a sign — we are trying to tell people in our community that we have to stop looking the other way.”
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community News Group
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