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Jury: 5 reputed gang members guilty of murder attempt

Wed, June 05, 2013 8:43 AM | NYGIA (Administrator)

Five reputed Latin Kings gang members will be sentenced in July for attempting to kill two people in retaliation for stealing money from and disrespecting the group, according to the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office.

After a more than five-week trial and four days of jury deliberations, the verdict came down Saturday afternoon: All five defendants were guilty on all counts, including conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.

The sequestered jury found Timothy “King Tiny” Ramirez, 22, and John “King Whiteblood” Rizzo, 43, guilty of ordering the assassination. The three defendants who prosecutors said were present for the City of Poughkeepsie attack undefined Justin Alfonso, 18, Irving Negron, 22, and Paul Sellers, 19 undefined were also convicted.

“It’s an ideal outcome,” said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weishaupt. “This is a very dangerous street gang here.”

Defense attorneys Bruce Petito and Steven Patterson didn’t return several phone messages before print deadline.

Attorneys Paul Caltagirone, Cynthia Kasnia and David Segal couldn’t be immediately reached.

The defendants could face consecutive sentences for up to 25 years for each person they shot and for the conspiracy charges, but their sentences could run concurrent, Judge Stephen Greller said.

Ramirez is said to be the Latin Kings’ “supreme crown” in the Dutchess County area.

Weishaupt said the convictions were “justified by the evidence the jury saw,” including text messages between supposed gang members discussing the order to kill the victims, and video and photographic evidence of three defendants at the crime scene that day.

Just before 5 p.m. on March 6, 2012, shots rang out inside a Rip Van Winkle Apartments unit on the banks of the City of Poughkeepsie waterfront. Ruben Rivera, 21, took a bullet to his face and a knife across his upper torso. Kymberle Perez-Colon, 21, was shot in the upper chest. But they survived.

Alfonso, who prosecutors said shot both victims with a .45-caliber handgun, was shown on video running down a staircase with his left hand in the pocket of his black hooded sweatshirt.

Phone records showed that Alfonso called Rizzo and Ramirez shortly after the attack.

Others charged in connection with the incident collaborated with police and became key witnesses.

Rizzo and Ramirez will be sentenced on July 9 and 11, respectively, for second-degree conspiracy, two counts of second-degree attempted murder and two counts of second-degree assault, all felonies.

Alfonso, Negron and Sellers will be sentenced the following week for second-degree conspiracy, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree assault and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Alfonso was also convicted of fourth-degree grand larceny.

Rizzo is from Hyde Park. Sellers is a City of Poughkeepsie resident, and Negron resides in the Town of Poughkeepsie.

Weishaupt said that when the verdicts were read the courtroom was “somber.” He thanked his prosecution team of Aviv Segal and Frank Petramale.

“The jury did a remarkable job and were truly committed to this case,” Greller said. He extended his gratitude to the officers who provided court security, including court and correction officers and local police agencies.

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