A jury has convicted Darrell Fuller for the 2012 murders of Nassau County police officer Arthur Lopez and carjacking victim Raymond Facey.
The verdict was handed down Monday around noon—it followed eight weeks of testimony from 78 witnesses, with the court proceedings sometimes packed beyond capacity with fellow policemen in a show of support for their fallen comrade.
Officer Arthur Lopez, 29, an eight-year veteran of the department and member of its elite Emergency Services Unit, was killed in the line of duty at approximately 11 a.m. October 23, 2012 during what started out as a routine traffic stop near the Belmont Park Racetrack.
He and his partner spotted a damaged silver Honda that was “running on rims” and suspected it was wanted for leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident, authorities said at the time.
The officers followed the car, and it pulled over.
There was “a brief exchange of words” between Lopez and the driver—later identified as 33-year-old Darrell Fuller—before the driver left the vehicle and fired one round into Lopez’s chest, police Chief Steven Skrynecki said at the time, adding that Lopez wasn’t wearing a bulletproof vest.
Fuller, of St. Albans, then shot and killed 52-year-old Raymond Facey of Brooklyn during a carjacking on the Cross Island Parkway near Belmont Park Racetrack and fled in his vehicle, which he then abandoned in Queens.
Fuller, now 34, was found guilty of two counts of Murder in the 1st Degree, Murder in the 2nd Degree, two counts of Robbery in the 1st Degree and two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the 2nd Degree.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole and is due back in court on Sept. 5.
Fuller’s trial, which had begun June 9, had been a frenzied and emotional event for victims’ families and fellow Nassau police officers.
When the jury began deliberations Friday, dozens of men and women wearing blue polo shirts reading “In Memory of P.O. Arthur Lopez” packed the courtroom at Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola.
Reporters from local TV channels and publications lined up their cameras in front of the courtroom door, waiting and constantly asking the sergeant who was watching the door whether there would be space for them inside the courtroom soon.
Raymond Facey’s widow, Juniepa Facey, left the courthouse hanging her head only moments after the defense finished its closing argument, wearing pins with her husband’s name on them.
“It’s almost two years, and it feels like yesterday,” she cried at a press conference Monday following the verdict, clutching onto her daughters Abbigail and Dahlia. “I think sometimes I feel like he’s going to come through the door and say it was a prank.”
She thanked God for giving her strength, singing: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives.”
“We can’t bring daddy back, but it’s such a blessing that we know who did it,” said Abbigail Facey. “We know we got the right person, we know he’s guilty, and we can go home and rest assured that he’s not going to be able to hurt anyone else.”
“Make sure you remember this muck’s family can go visit him in jail, but the Lopez and Facey families have to visit a cemetery to visit their loved ones, and that will never ever change,” shouted James Carver, president of the Nassau County police union.
The mood was somber at the Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s Office following the verdict, said a spokesperson, with no celebration, but satisfaction following a lengthy trial.
“This is stark reminder of the danger that every single man and woman who wears a police uniform goes through every single day, and we have to remember that we should be very grateful for the service that we give us to keep this county as safe as they do,” Rice said at the press conference.
“Today a jury of Darrell Fuller’s peers found him guilty of the intentional killing of a police officer and an innocent motorist. By his actions, Fuller demonstrated that he had no respect for the law or for human life,” she said afterward in a statement. “I want to thank the men and women of the jury for their hard work. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and colleagues of Officer Lopez and Mr. Facey.
“May their loved ones find some peace and closure from today’s verdict.”