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Long Island murder suspect says cops denied him a lawyer

A police mugshot shows William Flowers, 33, of Rosedale, Queens, after his arrest in February 2013 on a felony murder charge.
Photo Credit: Nassau County Police Dept.

In an attempt to suppress a videotaped confession, a Queens man facing murder charges testified Wednesday that Nassau County homicide detectives ignored his request for an attorney before grilling him about his alleged involvement in a fatal shooting.

William Flowers, 31, of Rosedale, is currently facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the death of 29-year-old James Warren. Flowers, who has pleaded not guilty, testified Wednesday during a pre-trial hearing after rejecting an offer by prosecutors to lessen the charges to manslaughter in exchange for a 12-year prison term.

The hearing – to determine whether the videotaped confession is admissible – left Flowers taking the witness stand and saying he told investigators he was involved in a marijuana sale when two men – one of whom he knew – hopped in his car and tried to rob him at knifepoint. During questioning, Flowers said one of the men was holding a knife at his throat and ransacking his car when he reached for a gun on the floor of his car and fired a shot before driving off from the meeting spot behind an apartment building on Fulton Avenue in Hempstead.

Warren, police said, was found shot on the sidewalk behind the apartment building on Jan. 30, 2013 and died after being rushed to a nearby hospital. Investigators said Flowers fled the state after the fatal shooting. He was apprehended by homicide detectives in Rhode Island in February 2013.

Flowers said he was arrested in the parking lot of a hotel in Warwick, RI, where he had been staying for about a week while working nearby. He said he was hauled into a local police station and questioned by Nassau homicide detectives about the fatal shooting – but contends he immediately asked for a lawyer when he was brought into an interrogation room. On the witness stand, Flowers said detectives ignored his request and said he then told them “a phony story” about shacking up with a prostitute in West Hempstead the night of the shooting.

His alleged confession came later when detectives began to question him again. Flowers said he felt he had been “coerced” because investigators caused him to become emotional during the questioning. He said he “broke down” during the interrogation and told the cops “the full details.” The videotaped recording, he claims, only shows detectives returning for a third time to “basically go over the real story.”

His defense lawyer, Brian Carmody, said authorities “violated [his client’s] Miranda rights in two different ways.” He said Flowers had asked to speak with an attorney as soon as he was brought in to the interrogation room, which he said “would negate the videotape.” He also contends Flowers responded both “Yes and No” when asked if he would waive his right to have an attorney present.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the case, which is set to continue Monday at the Nassau County Court in Mineola.

If convicted, Flowers could face up to life behind bars.

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