2010-07-16 / Front Page

Hernandez Murderer Convicted

Sentencing Set For July 26, Faces 25 YearsTo Life
By Nicholas Briano
It was announced this week by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown that the shooter of 18-year-old Patrick Hernandez has been convicted of killing the scholar-athlete with a single gunshot to his chest as he was walking home with his younger brother.

Patrick Hernandez in his senior year photo for the Far Rockaway High School varsity football team. Patrick Hernandez in his senior year photo for the Far Rockaway High School varsity football team. Karon Lenihan, 19, of 38-08 Beach Channel Drive, was convicted late last week of one count of second-degree murder, following four hours of deliberation. Sentencing is scheduled for July 26, at which time Lenihan, who has been held without bail since his arrest in July 2008, could receive up to 25 years to life in prison.

Hernandez’s mother, Elizabeth, said she is happy with the verdict but it still brings little closure to the family, especially his younger brother Ralphael, who witnessed the murder and was key in identifying Lenihan and later providing testimony.

“He is happy that the jurors believed his testimony,” Elizabeth said about Ralphfael, now 18. “But still, we’re all sad and wish he was here with us.”

According to trial testimony, Hernandez was walking along Beach 15 Street with his 16-year-old brother, Ralphael Jones, shortly after 10:30 a.m. on July 10, 2008, when a dark blue Honda approached and Lenihan exited from the rear of the vehicle with a shotgun wrapped in a black T-shirt and fired once, striking Hernandez in the chest.

By all accounts Hernandez was an all-around good kid who worked with the community cleaning up the beaches, worked two jobs, and graduated six months early from high school with a 3.8 grade point average. He even tutored kids in his neighborhood. He didn’t have time to hang out on the streets, buy guns or join gangs. He was getting ready to go away to school at SUNY Cortland.

The motive for Lenihan seemed simple to police. Jealousy, they speculated, as the two boys were once rivals in school and more recently at work. The attack, they believed, was sparked by Hernandez’s successes, as he seemingly had everything going right in his life. Police said after Lenihan’s arrest, that the two men knew one another since grade school and later at Middle School 53 in Far Rockaway.

Hernandez’s mother says Lenihan and his family continued to deny that he was the shooter, even insisting he wasn’t anywhere near the scene of the crime when it happened.

“His family thinks he is the wrong person,” she said. However, police proved Lenihan was in the area of the crime when his T-Mobile cell phone was traced to the scene of the crime. Despite that, Hernandez says his mother and sister still lied on the witness stand, claiming he wasn’t there.

“The staff did an extraordinary job and we are so grateful for the work done by everyone,” Hernandez said in reference to Senior Assistant District Attorney Debra L. Pomodore, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Trials Bureau, who prosecuted the case along with her staff.

“He [Hernandez] was working two jobs, hoping to buy a car before heading off to college in the fall, when his promising life was senselessly cut short by the defendant,” Brown said in a statement. “Such mindless gun violence warrants maximum punishment behind bars in order to protect society.”

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