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Trial begins for man accused in Nassau cop’s murder

A New York City parolee killed a Nassau County police officer with “a bullet to the heart” and fatally shot a Brooklyn man during a carjacking after he fled an auto accident and led cops on a pursuit, a Nassau County prosecutor said at the man’s murder trial Monday.

Darrell Fuller, 34, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, robbery and weapons charges relating to the October 2012 shooting that left Nassau County Police Officer Arthur Lopez and the carjacking victim, Raymond Facey, dead. Opening statements began Monday afternoon in his trial at the Nassau County Court in Mineola. If convicted of the top charge, Fuller faces life in prison without parole.

Assistant District Attorney Mitch Benson said Monday that Fuller shot Lopez – an 8-year police veteran – after the officer witnessed the ex-con being involved in a hit-and-run crash in Queens. Lopez and his partner Clarence Hudson pursued Fuller in their emergency service vehicle before Fuller pulled off the Cross Island Parkway, came to an abrupt halt, hopped out of his car, and shot the officer with a 9mm handgun from about five feet away, the prosecutor said. Benson said Fuller fled that scene and then approached Facey, who had pulled over on the parkway to speak with his daughter on the phone. The 58-year-old Brooklyn man, prosecutors said, was shot twice in the face and died at the scene during the alleged carjacking.

Benson contends Fuller fled the crash because he was on parole and in possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol. He said he intends to call six eyewitnesses – including Hudson, other motorists on the highway and an off-duty New York City police officer who supposedly saw both shootings and then tailed Fuller while on the phone with a 911 operator – during the course of the trial. Benson told jurors the evidence in the case is “overwhelming” and includes DNA, ballistic matches and cell phone records.

Fuller, prosecutors said, was caught in Queens several hours after the shooting when he had a friend, Gerald Williams, shoot him in a supposed attempt to appear as a victim of a gunman on the loose. Williams was arrested in Queens on weapons possession charges two days after the fatal shooting. He has pleaded not guilty and his case is still pending, according to court records.

Fuller’s defense attorney, Kenneth St. Bernard, disputed the prosecution’s version of events. “They don’t search your car when you’re in a car accident,” he said. “No matter where this evidence leads you, you must follow it.”

Fuller’s sister, Charo Ramos, and Facey’s daughter, Dahlia Kong, both testified in court Monday. Before getting on the witness stand, Kong broke down crying in the courtroom gallery as the prosecutor described how her father was killed and repeated his last words to his 23-year-old daughter. Testimony in the case will continue Wednesday.

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