After a pregnant New York woman and her boyfriend were gunned down during an apparent home invasion lawyers for the suspect and one of the victims traded drug-related allegations.
Ana Desousa, 33, and Alafia Rodriguez, 46, were killed after a gunman stormed their Staten Island home and shot them multiple times in the presence of their 1-year-old child, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
Shortly after 5 p.m. on May 11, authorities responded to a residence at 376 Grandview Avenue in Staten Island following reports of gunfire. Three individuals were found suffering from multiple bullet wounds. Desousa and Rodriguez were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Authorities also found the couple’s 1-year-old at the scene of the double homicide. The baby was unharmed in the incident, however, investigators allege the gunman “discharged a loaded firearm in close proximity” of the couple’s child.
Desousa was also several months pregnant at the time. Her unborn baby didn’t survive the shooting, according to the Staten Island Advance.
A third victim, a 43-year-old woman, was shot in the torso. She was transported to Richmond University Medical Center. She’s in stable condition, police said.
Phillip Moreno, 45, was apprehended by New York City Police officers a short time later. A .22 caliber pistol, suspected to have been used in the shooting, as well as a silencer, were later recovered, authorities said. There were no signs of forced entry to the home, the Staten Island Advance reported. The investigation into the double murder is ongoing. Moreno also allegedly brandished a knife during the home invasion, according to the criminal complaint.
The woman who survived the shooting lived with the couple, the New York Post reported. She was identified as Erica Johnson.
It’s unclear what motivated the attack.
However, the alleged home invasion may have been a failed drug robbery, police sources told local newspapers. A “quantity of drugs” were allegedly found in the home where the shooting unfolded, including plastic baggies containing crack cocaine and prescription pills, according to the New York Post.
Moreno also had cocaine and zip ties in his possession at the time of his arrest, the Staten Island Advance reported.
Authorities didn’t specify how or if the couple knew Moreno, however, the alleged shooter’s lawyer alleged Rodriguez was wrapped up in drug trafficking, describing him as a “violent” person.
“I’m still assessing the situation,” Mark Fonte, Moreno’s private defense attorney, told Oxygen.com. “All indications are that [Rodriguez] was a well known drug trafficker and violent individual. [We’re] still trying to get to the bottom of that.”
Rodriguez’s former defense lawyer, however, blasted the accusations as a "fairy tale."
"I hear the killers' attorney spewing venom and lies," Mario Gallucci told Oxygen.com.
Gallucci called the double murder a "senseless execution" and insisted his client's killer was a PCP "junkie." He acknowledged Rodriguez's past legal scrapes but said the 46-year-old had made a "turn for the better."
"I am truly heartbroken, Gallucci added. "Alafia and Ana were entering a new chapter in their lives."
Moreno is a parolee, according to the criminal complaint. He pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2013. In 1992, Moreno was convicted of manslaughter, according to the New York Department of Corrections. Monday’s shooting occurred just steps from the scene of the 1992 killing, the Staten Island Advance also reported. Moreno has also been convicted on past weapons charges. In total, he’s been arrested 35 times, according to the Post.
Moreno faces a total of 13 charges following the triple shooting. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, including several counts of burglary and criminal possession of a weapon.
The 45-year-old was arraigned and is scheduled back in court on June 15, according to the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors declined to comment on the case on Friday.
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