Articles Tagged with first-degree murder

O’Connor’s Pub and Package Store in the Sandalfoot Plaza, located well west of the city of Boca Raton has been a popular meeting place in that spot for more than a decade. For those who like smoking cigarettes with their drinks it’s a welcome retreat. Monday’s are college night/ladies night with live DJ’s spinning tunes on Friday and Saturday nights. Karaoke is offered every Wednesday and Sunday.

Many regulars will tell you that the food is good, with the kitchen open very late serving reasonably priced drinks making it their favorite local watering hole.

According to a review found on Yelp, it’s “a really popular pub for after party hours for anyone who wasn’t ready to call it quits”. But not all the reviews are so flattering, giving it a total overall 2 ½ star rating.

It was more than twenty years ago when Lynne Friend went to meet her estranged husband to pick up a check that was due for child support. After that evening, the then thirty-five year old Lynne Friend vanished.

For eighteen of those twenty years, her ex-husband, Clifford Friend lived his life as a free man and continued with his life. He remarried in 1995 and together with his new wife they raised his son Christian the product of his first marriage. He opened a pawn shop and the couple bought a home in Pembroke Pines. Although he was the prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, charges against him were never filed.

But in March of 2012, a Grand Jury indicted Friend for the charge of first degree murder in his wife’s death. Over the years, the case had gone before Grand Juries three previous times but it wasn’t until the latest review that an Indictment was returned.

Back then, after making his first appearance before a Miami-Dade judge, the Lighthouse Point man was denied bail. At the time, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office introduced new evidence that apparently made the difference although Lynne’s body was never found.

Investigators asserted that they had new evidence that was gathered during the course of their investigation stating that they had confirmation of Mr. Friend and Alan Gold (one of his former friends) throwing an oversized bundle from Gold’s boat that was drifting off the coast of Miami Beach in the area of Government Cut. The information was provided by U.S. Customs officials who told investigators that they witnessed the act on the last night Lynne Friend was seen, approximately one hour after Friend spoke with his wife about picking up the payment.

The boat was later searched revealing a quantity of light gauge rope and two cement blocks. However, in spite of a considerable search of the area, no human remains or evidence of a large package or container of any type was ever found in the water or neighboring area.

The prosecution’s case hinged on Gold’s testimony who until recently remained silent. He was offered immunity in the case in exchange for becoming a witness against his former friend. He stated that he promised Mr. Friend that he would never reveal the episode that transpired that night and had no intentions of doing so. But his fear of being prosecuted as an accessory to the crime caused him to accept the immunity deal. At trial, in his own words when he was asked why he decided to testify he told the prosecutor: “Only because you put me in a box and I don’t have any choice.”

Prior to making that statement, during questioning the prosecutor asked Gold if he helped Friend on the night in question by throwing a parcel off a boat into the water. His answer was in the affirmative. The prosecutor’s then asked if he suspected what was in the bag that was thrown overboard to which he responded definitively and without hesitation “His wife, Lynne.”

During further questioning Gold stated that Friend told him that he strangled his ex-wife during a heated argument and he only agreed to help his friend get rid of his ex-wife’s body to keep him from getting arrested and sent to jail leaving their son, Christian without either parent. His son Christian was five years old at the time of his mother’s presumed murder. Gold went on to say “I basically didn’t want to see the kid fatherless.”

Friend had previously lost a long bitter custody battle and his ex-wife was preparing to leave the state with their son. This apparently infuriated Friend.

The two week long first-degree murder trial that concluded in July resulted with the jury deliberating for five hours before returning a verdict of guilty of the lesser charge of second degree murder.

Before the sentence of life in prison was announced last month, Friend’s current wife Janet told the judge that her husband was a good man. “His smile, his guidance and his presence as a father will be missed. I’m requesting you to consider that he had no criminal history and was an outstanding citizen, phenomenal father and wonderful husband.” The couple had been married for nineteen years.

His son Christian, now twenty-five also stood by his father saying that his father was innocent of the crime. “He raised us to know the difference between right and wrong. I know he loved me. He loved too much to hurt me by taking my mother from me. After sitting here for weeks, I have never been more sure of his innocence.”

But Lynn Friend’s former fiancé, Ed O’Dell had a completely opposite viewpoint. After the sentence was imposed he told reporters that he though Friend should have received the death penalty.

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Two Staten Island men fought for their lives but their assailant finally won out when he shot each of the men, one in the head, the other in the leg and torso. The victims of the attack, Kenrick Gray, 34, and Noland (DJ) Whistleton, 41, both died of their injuries a short time later after police responded to an emergency 911 call that conveyed the shooting which occurred on Park Hill Avenue. The call came in at 6:17 p.m. Gray who was shot in the head was pronounced dead on arrival at Richmond University Medical Center and Whistleton suffered the same fate when his lifeless body arrived at Staten Island University Hospital shortly after the violence concluded.

Gray, of Stapleton, may well have had an inadvertent hand in the events that transpired which led to the attack that caused his death and that of Whistleton. A few years ago he won a settlement against the City of New York that totaled $132,500.00 from a federal civil rights lawsuit. The city shelled out $125,000.00 and police officer Michael Daragjati had to personally pay $7,500.00. Additionally, the police officer is in the midst of serving an almost 5 year prison sentence for violating Gray’s rights as well as a conviction for an unconnected case. He had numerous other civil-rights grievances lodged against him at the time of the settlement.

According to court documents, the police officer arrested Gray in early April 2011 because he protested about being stopped and frisked in a “rough” manner at the intersection of Laurel Avenue and Targee Street in Staten Island. The following day, an intercepted phone conversation caught the police officer, speaking to an associate saying that he had “fried another [n-word].” This condemning statement led to the settlement in tandem by the City and personally by the police officer.

Unfortunately, Gray was not tight-lipped about his monetary windfall.

As has been par for the course this year in the Metropolitan area, it was a snowy night when Darren “True Story” Brown, 27 of Mariner’s Harbor, confronted Gray and Whistleton. He apparently heard the story of Gray’s good fortune and decided that Gray was a prime target for a robbery. After approaching the two men and pulling his gun, the two victims’ began to fight with their attacker, trying to separate Brown’s firearm from his person. Brown suffered a gunshot wound but law enforcement believe that it may have been self-inflicted during the scuffle and in the end he remained the only one of the three men still breathing.

Although Gray was the victim of the robbery he was well-known in the neighborhood to be a small-time drug dealer. According to police records he had twenty-two drug related arrests.

Brown was arrested and indicted a few days later after being found hiding in the shower of his girlfriend’s home by the Staten Island Warrants Unit. It wasn’t known if he made off with any money that Gray might have been carrying during the fatal shootout.

He now faces a potential penalty of life in prison if convicted of the first-degree murder charges in the double homicide. He was also charged with attempted robbery. He pleaded not guilty to all charges through his attorney.

According to (Staten Island Live Online), Whistleton’s sister said that he and Gray were friends. Her brother just happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“My brother, he tried to save Kendrick, and that’s how he ended up getting shot,” as shown on the online news source. “Knowing my brother, knowing how he is, he wasn’t going to stand there.”

A source close to the investigation told the New York Post that Gray had spoken about using the money he made from the settlement to start a music business.

In a telephone interview, a female relative said “Word gets around about that type of thing… People knew he had a little money and he just wasn’t as quiet about it as he should have been… it’s just sad.”

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