SCHENECTADY – A Rotterdam foster father murdered 4-year-old foster child Charlie Garay in December 2020, a Schenectady County Court jury found Monday.
The jury deliberated for about six hours over two days before convicting 28-year-old Dequan Greene of second-degree murder in Garay’s death.
Greene now faces up to 25 years to life in prison at his December sentencing, a maximum prosecutors will push for, prosecutor Christina Tremante-Pelham said Monday.
“Without question, based on what he was convicted of doing, that’s the sentence he deserves,” Tremante-Pelham said.
Greene was accused of killing Garay on Dec. 20, 2020 by stepping on his chest, causing massive internal injuries.
Prosecutors argued that Greene’s actions severely lacerated the boy’s liver and caused other internal injuries that would have killed him within minutes, and then fabricated a story about why the boy stopped breathing while first responders worked to save his life.
Resuscitation efforts continued after the child was transported from Greene’s Broadway home to Ellis Hospital, where he was eventually pronounced dead. Blunt force trauma was later determined to be the cause of death.
Garay and his older brother, who was 5 at the time of the incident, were placed in the care of Greene and his wife, Latrisha, in September 2020 after being removed from the home of their biological parents by Child Protective Services in Albany County. The couple, who cared for three children of there own at the time, were certified foster parents.
In opening statements, Tremante-Pelham said the foster home was meant to be a safe haven for the children, but said Greene abused the boys and eventually killed the youngest brother.
Greene’s attorney James Tyner argued his client was not responsible for Garay’s death, that Greene attempted the save the child’s life using CPR and showed great concern about the child’s condition while first responders attempted to save his life — actions he said were not indicative of a murderer.
He added that the foster brothers had suffered abuse prior to being placed in the Greenes’ care and as a result were difficult to deal with at times, which necessitated discipline in order to ensure their “proper upbringing.”
Tyner could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
Tremante-Pelham Monday thanked the jury for their work on the “emotionally draining and difficult case.”
The jury acquitted on one count of second-degree assault, related to the older child, Tremante-Pelham said.
The case has led to questions about whether authorities ignored warning signs about abuse and whether enough was done to protect the children.
Last year, a lawsuit was filed in Albany County Supreme Court by attorney Lorraine R. Silverman, the court-appointed guardian for the elder Garay brother and the estate of Charlie Garay, claimed that that child protective services in both Albany and Schenectady counties missed repeated opportunities to relocate the children.
The lawsuit claims multiple employees involved in the case did not take the proper steps to “interview and assess” the two children “alone in an appropriate context, and take appropriate steps to assess whether (the children) were being abused and beaten.”