Schenectady County

Prosecutor: Feud led to murder

The September 2007 shooting that killed Hassan Rainey was the culmination of a violent one-on-one fe

The September 2007 shooting that killed Hassan Rainey was the culmination of a violent one-on-one feud that had lasted weeks, a prosecutor argued Tuesday.

Prosecutor Matthew Sypniewski argued the feud began with murder suspect Craig Thompson assaulting a woman and grew into a battle over drug turf. It even escalated into open gunfire, Sypniewski conceded, when Rainey fired on Thompson and two friends the night before Rainey would be killed. Rainey hit one of the friends in the shoulder.

But Thompson didn’t go to the police, Sypniewski said. Instead, he became bent on revenge and retaliation.

“Those were the emotions that this defendant was consumed by when he exacted his retaliation on Hassan Rainey,” Sypniewski said.

“What he chose to do,” Sypniewski added later, “was to arm himself the next day and go out looking for Hassan Rainey and he found him.”

Rainey was shot from another vehicle as he drove at the intersection of Craig Street and Duane Avenue. Thompson opened fire, Sypniewski argued, in broad daylight as a woman and her young daughter walked by and a man nearby was fixing a house.

Thompson, 21, of Congress Street, is standing trial in Schenectady County Court on one count of second-degree murder in the Sept. 13 killing of 29-year-old Rainey.

The attorney for Craig Thompson, however, said it was different, a one-man feud Rainey provoked with Thompson and two friends. Attorney Cheryl Coleman argued that, while the three friends were bad guys, there is no conclusive proof that Thompson was the trigger man.

The only direct testimony that she expected to be given was from Thompson’s two friends, Keith Dunbar and Kassun Brown.

Both teens, she argued, have received leniency from the district attorney for their expected testimony.

“Hassan Rainey couldn’t stand any of the three,” Coleman said. “He was out to get them.”

“While Hassan Rainey didn’t deserve to die,” Coleman added later, “there is also evidence that will show he isn’t a party that deserves much sympathy either.”

All three friends were there that day, and two out of the three fired. One killed Rainey, Coleman said.

“My client did not kill Hassan Rainey,” Coleman said. “The DA will in no way and no how prove that to you.”

Brown, 17, of Mynderse Street, admitted in June that he possessed a weapon with intent to use it against another. He possessed it Sept. 13 at Craig Street and Duane Avenue.

Brown was arrested in February along with Thompson. Dunbar was never charged in the shooting.

Sypniewski emphasized the shooting was sudden and without warning.

“[Rainey] didn’t even see it coming,” Sypniewski said. “He never had a chance to move his car. He never had a chance to do anything.”

Rainey had two young sons and he also was a coach with Pop Warner football, family members have said.

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