2009-06-26 / Top Stories

Shooting Victim Remains In Coma As Case Takes A Twist

Shooter's Relative Busted For Witness Tampering
By Howard Schwach

A Staten Island man was arrested this week for tampering with witnesses involved in the June 14 shooting of Thomas O'Neil on Beach 129 Street in Belle Harbor, even as O'Neil remains in a medically-induced coma at Jamaica Hospital.

Court documents say that Kristopher Durante, 34, the brotherin law of accused shooter Robert Cassato, threatened the two witnesses to the shooting, Michael Copain and Lara Seidman, both of Brooklyn, warning them not to speak with police.

According to court documents, Durante approached the Copain on June 18, screaming at him, "I got a paid lawyer for you and Lara. If you know what's good for you, you will use it. You know what I mean. Don't talk to the cops. Do what's best for you."

Durante was arrested and arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on two counts of tampering with a witness and two counts of intimidating a victim or witness.

He is being held in lieu of $25 thousand bail for his next court date, which is scheduled for July 2.

Meanwhile, O'Neil's brother-in-law, Ray Marten, said on Wednesday that he remains in a medically-induced coma, but that he is making progress each day.

Detectives from the NYPD's Crime Scene Unit work the scene on the corner of Newport Avenue and Beach 129 Street a few hours after the June 14 shooting. Detectives from the NYPD's Crime Scene Unit work the scene on the corner of Newport Avenue and Beach 129 Street a few hours after the June 14 shooting. "It's all small steps," Marten said, adding that the doctors hope to take him off a breathing tube sometime next week.

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