Accused Brooklyn murderer decides at last minute not to take the stand

February 20, 2018 By Paul Frangipane Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Patrick Zephir is on trial at Brooklyn Supreme Court (shown) for allegedly murdering a Flatbush resident in a 2015 shooting. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese
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A Brooklyn man on trial for the 2015 murder of a Flatbush resident that sparked public outcry from the community decided last minute not to testify on his own behalf on Tuesday.

Charged with second-degree murder and weapon possession, Patrick Zephir was escorted in cuffs into Brooklyn Supreme Court, previously expected to take the stand.
When Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice asked the accused shooter if he thought it was in his best interest not to testify, Zephir, 36, hesitated for a second before shakily responding, “Yes.”

Zephir has been on trial since Feb. 7 for the murder of Raphael Kurton, 27, near Newkirk Avenue and East 17th Street in Flatbush, according to trial testimony.
Having previously argued self-defense based on Zephir’s anticipated testimony, his attorney, Lawrence Wright requested a one-day postponement to Tuesday’s summations but the judge swiftly denied his motion.

A 911 caller who was walking by the scene testified that a car drove up to the middle of the intersection and slammed on the breaks around 9:20 p.m. on May 26, 2015. The witness, Sayed Tanzie, then heard a car door open, cursing fill the air and “continuous shooting,” in the direction of the Smoke Shop & Deli at 1624 Newkirk Ave.

“Within 30 seconds, everything happened,” Tanzie said before the jury. “When I heard the shooting sound, I started running.”

Zephir allegedly shot at least seven times, prosecutors said.

Kurton was shot in the torso outside the deli before he stumbled along Newkirk towards his nearby home and collapsed. Kurton was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital the same night.

Two months later in July 2015, Zephir was caught as a fugitive in Martinsburg, West Virginia, living with a girlfriend.

The death brought together local politicians, advocates and community members outside the deli to call for peace in the neighborhood, according to a Bklyner report.

The trial’s closing arguments were expected to begin Tuesday afternoon.

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