A Queens man who was facing up to life in prison on a murder charge is headed to state prison for 12 years after pleading guilty Monday to a felony weapons charge relating to the fatal shooting of a Hempstead man.
William Flowers, 33, of Rosedale, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the shooting death of 29-year-old James Warren. Flowers will be sentenced to serve 12 years in state prison after admitting to possessing a loaded handgun during the January 2013 incident.
Flowers, who had been facing a second-degree murder charge, rejected a similar plea offer last week to lessen the charge to manslaughter in exchange for the same 12-year prison term. During a hearing last Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Christine Geier said the offer had been “revoked” and said it would “not be re-extended to this defendant.” Geier declined to comment Monday and the district attorney’s office did not respond to questions about what prompted them to offer another plea deal in the case.
Police said Warren, the victim, was found shot on the sidewalk behind an apartment building on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead on Jan. 30, 2013 and died after being rushed to a local hospital. Warren's mother told Examiner.com last year that her son had been shot in the back while running away from Flowers. He left behind three young children.
Investigators allege Flowers fled the state after the shooting and said he was apprehended the next month in Rhode Island. When Flowers was arrested – in front of a hotel in Warwick, RI – he was taken to a local police station and questioned by Nassau County homicide detectives.
In an attempt to suppress a supposed videotaped confession, Flowers took the witness stand last week at a pre-trial hearing and testified that he had immediately asked for an attorney when he was hauled into an interrogation room, but said detectives ignored his request and continued to question him. After initially lying to police about his whereabouts, he said he “broke down” during the questioning and told the cops “the full details” about what happened.
Flowers had said he was involved in a marijuana sale with two men – one of whom he knew – when they tried to rob him at knifepoint. He said one of the men was holding a knife at his throat and ransacking his car when he reached for a gun that was on the floor and then fired a gunshot before driving off.
He had said a videotape of the supposed confession he gave to police did not show him asking for an attorney. Nassau County Court Judge William Donnino was set to hear arguments at the hearing Monday, but the motion to suppress evidence was dismissed when Flowers pleaded guilty.
Flowers said nothing as he left court on his way back to the county jail.
The parents of the victim, who were in the courtroom to hear the guilty plea, did not comment afterwards, but said they intend on addressing the court at Flowers’ sentencing on June 13.