BUFFALO - Four men accused of conspiring to and carrying out a contract killing of Jamestown resident Quincy Turner in May 2008 were acquitted by a jury in Buffalo federal court Friday.
Jose "Noelle" Martinez, Angel Luis "Bate" Marcial, Felix J. "Lolo" Vasquez and Carlos A. Jorge "Nito" Canales all faced charges that, if proven, could have resulted in life in prison.
Martinez, who was accused of issuing the contract for the killing, was found guilty on a related drug charge.
"I wasn't shocked at all," defense lawyer Andrew C. LoTempio told The Buffalo News on Friday. "I don't think the government had the proof as far as the motivation for the killing."
Defense lawyers told The Buffalo News they felt the prosecution fell short in proving the defendants knew Turner was an informant and that is why they killed him. For that reason, the trial should not have been heard in federal court in the opinion of defense lawyers.
Angelo Musitano, Marcial's defense lawyer, also told The Buffalo News that he believed jurors had trouble finding evidence linking Martinez to the other defendants involved in the alleged conspiracy.
The eight-week trial was the result of a nearly two-year investigation into the May 30, 2008 shooting of Turner in the parking lot of the Fluvanna Fire Hall on Girts Road. The shooting came two months after Turner was implicated as a co-conspirator in a drug ring allegedly run by Quentin Leeper of Jamestown. Turner was among 11 people charged in the raid.
During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duszkiewicz argued that Vasquez pulled the trigger in the presence of the other defendants after arriving at the location to carry out Martinez's $20,000 hit job, according to The Buffalo News.
"He pays people to do his dirty work," Duszkiewicz said in the courtroom. "Unfortunately, his dirty work included the murder of Quincy Turner."
In August 2010, U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. unsealed an indictment which charged the five men with multiple counts of murder. The indictment alleged that Turner was murdered to keep him from talking to police in a drug investigation.
"There is no more heinous crime than murder, particularly when it involves retaliation against a witness," Hochul said at the time. "When such crime is committed as part of a narcotics operation or to protect such an operation, federal law provides for the greatest potential punishment."
The fifth man included in the indictment, Juan DeJesus "Javi" Santiago took the witness stand for the prosecution during trial. Santiago is currently awaiting sentencing for his conviction.
Turner, 31 at the time of his death, left behind a fiancee and two sons, as well as many other family members and friends involved with the racing scene at Stateline Speedway, where an annual race is held in his honor.