A 18 year-old Brooklyn man was found guilty of second-degree murder yesterday for stabbing a 20 year-old gay man to death after calling him a “faggot” and accusing him of coming on to him. Duncan Osborne at Gay City News covered the trial, which nearly ended in a hung jury due to the poor credibility of witnesses.
Following a roughly three-day trial and four days of deliberation, a Brooklyn jury found Omar Willock guilty of second-degree murder in the 2007 stabbing death of Roberto Duncanson, a 20-year-old gay man. “Justice was served,” was the only comment from Howard Jackson, the prosecutor in the case, following the March 18 verdict. The trial began on March 9, and the jury started deliberating on March 12. The 12 jurors spent the morning of March 13 listening to trial testimony. A verdict appeared to be in doubt at several points in the deliberations, with the jury repeatedly sending notes to Neil J. Firetog, the trial judge, saying they could not reach a verdict.
“The status from the get-go until Tuesday afternoon was nine to three in favor of conviction,” said Beriah Wall, one of the jurors. “It wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that the foreperson really came around… At the point, it was ten to two.” The prosecution relied primarily on two witnesses – Belinda Toon, who knew the 18-year-old Willock, but did not see him stab Duncanson, and Jeimar Brown, who saw a man stab Duncanson, but never identified Willock as that man. Wall said one juror, a retired Army sergeant, put the case together for the reluctant jurors. “He was truly patient and tenacious in connecting the dots,” Wall said. “Neither of the witnesses were totally credible, especially Belinda… We really had to, step A, step B, run through the narrative numbers of times.”
The judge dismissed the hate crime count of the charges, even though the prosecutor cited the Willock’s repeated use of “faggot.” Willock faces 15 years to life in prison; the hate crimes enhancement would have added five years to his sentence.