Unusual Trial For 3 Rockaway Cop-Shooting Thugs
Jury selection began on Wednesday in the trial of three Rockaway residents accused of killing Police Officer Russell Timoshenko and wounding his partner in Brooklyn on July 9, 2007, although the trial itself is not scheduled to begin until November 10.
That means the lawyers must agree on a total of 48 people - 12 jurors and four alternates for each panel.
The unusual approach is far better, prosecutors believe, than dragging out a case full of forensic evidence three separate times.
The three Rockaway men, Lee Woods, Dexter Bostic and Robert Ellis, are accused with ambushing police officers Timoshenko and Herman Yan after the two officers stopped the men, who were traveling in an SUV stolen from the Lawrence (Long Island) dealership where Bostic worked as a salesman.
Bostic and Ellis allegedly opened fire on the cops without warning. Yan was wounded, saved by his armored vest. Timoshenko, shot twice in the head, allegedly by Bostic, was mortally wounded.
Bostic was on parole at the time for an earlier gun and assault conviction. Having spent most of his 20s in prison, he returned to the streets only to get involved in an armed robbery in which his partner fired shots at the victim. He had two convictions for violent felonies, prosecutors say.
In March of 1991, Ellis was arrested for the rape of a 14-year-old Rockaway girl. He was sentenced to three to ten years in prison and got out on a conditional release in 1998.
Woods was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1999 for possession of a weapon and criminal mischief in the Bronx. He was conditionally released in 2004.
In March of 2007, Woods allegedly took part in the stabbing of another local man outside McDonald's restaurant on Beach Channel Drive and Mott Avenue.
He was awaiting trial on those charges when he allegedly drove the car used by the two shooters.
"If he got stopped in that car with those guns, then it would have been jail for certain," one prosecutor argued.
Woods was arrested on Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at his home on Gateway Boulevard in Far Rockaway.
Police officers from all over the city fanned out in and around the public housing complexes looking for Bostic and Ellis, but they had already fled the city.
On Wednesday night, Bostic was arrested in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. Ellis was found hiding in the woods nearby on Thursday morning.
All three men have pointed fingers at the others, each claiming to have been driving the car while the others fired the shots.
"[Prosecutors] have lots of evidence about who was there," Woods' lawyer, Samuel Karliner, told Daily News reporter Scott Shifrel, "but they have very little direct evidence about what happened inside the car at the time of the shooting."
Bostic's lawyer, Edward Wilford, argued that jurors should not hear evidence that his client was on parole at the time of the shooting, but Queens Supreme Court Justice Plummer Lott indicated that he would allow the testimony because it's relevant as a motive for the shooting.