Schenectady County

Last defendant in double homicide starts trial

The final person facing charges in the March 2010 double killing on Hulett Street fired at unarmed t

The final person facing charges in the March 2010 double killing on Hulett Street fired at unarmed teenagers and killed two, one of whom was a friend of his, a prosecutor told a jury Tuesday.

And the suspect, 18-year-old Michael Capers, did so for nothing more than a minor argument, prosecutor Amy Monahan told the jury in her opening arguments in Capers’ murder trial.

Meanwhile, Capers’ attorney Steve Kouray countered in his own openings that there is no scientific evidence, vital eyewitness testimony is inconsistent and that some of the testimony will be “bought and paid for” through plea deals.

Capers is standing trial in the March 26, 2010, killings of 17-year-old Alphonzo Pittman and 21-year-old Virgil Terry.

Capers originally was one of three people accused of opening fire on Pittman and Pittman’s friends that night.

One of the three, former Eastern Avenue resident Dashaun Terry, 20, Virgil’s brother, took a plea deal and agreed to testify against his co-defendants. The second, Jalil Miles, stood trial in July and was acquitted of the killings but convicted of weapons possession counts; he was sentenced Monday to 15 years in state prison.

Miles, 19, formerly of Emmett Street, and Capers, formerly of Brandywine Avenue, were to be tried in July together, but a conflict forced the cases to be separated.

Now, after having tried essentially the same case already, with a “not guilty” verdict resulting, prosecutors are getting a rare opportunity to try the case again, albeit with a different defendant. Their approach Tuesday with the Capers opening statements differed slightly from those in the Miles trial.

In her opening, Monahan appeared to spend more time on legal definitions and rules important to the case.

She also appeared to emphasize more details of what prosecutors believe happened that night.

In one instance, she explained how Virgil Terry was killed — the gunmen continued to fire at Pittman’s friends as they fled, but hit Virgil Terry instead.

Monahan also described the incident as being sparked by the vehicle carrying the Terrys, Capers and Miles nearly hitting Pittman’s sister.

The ensuing argument escalated to the point where Terry, Miles and Capers opened fire. Pittman, his sister and his friends were unarmed.

“For nothing this defendant cut down a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old father,” Monahan told the jury.

Also among the differences between the two trials is expected jailhouse testimony. Monahan told the jury that Capers made admissions to a fellow inmate at the Schenectady County Jail.

Kouray, too, has had the benefit of either sitting through or reading transcripts from the Miles trial. After Miles’ acquittal, his attorney, Michael Horan, said the jury focused on inconsistencies in the testimony.

Kouray emphasized to the jury that there would be many inconsistencies.

“Let me tell you right now,” Kouray told the jury, “Michael didn’t murder anybody, by his own hand or as an accomplice to anyone else, and the evidence will show you that.”

The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Frank P. Milano is presiding.

Capers remains in custody. He turned down a plea deal Monday that would have gotten him 10 years in state prison. He now faces up to 50 years to life, if convicted in both killings.

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