Photo: Suffolk District Attorney handout

A Flanders man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the November 2021 shooting death of a Moriches man outside his apartment, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney announced today.

Michael Gilbert, 29, was convicted of second degree murder and second degree criminal possession of a weapon — both violent felonies — in September after a jury trial, according to a district attorney office’s press release. Prosecutors said Gilbert fatally shot Tyrell Durham, 37, in front of his Moriches home a short time after midnight on Nov. 28, 2021, after Durham had an argument with Gilbert’s girlfriend. He was sentenced for the crimes by Acting Supreme Court Justice Anthony Senft.

“What started out as a verbal argument escalated to murder,” Tierney said in the press release. “We hope that this lengthy prison sentence provides some measure of justice for Tyrell’s family and friends, all of whom still mourn his tragic loss.”

Prosecutors said Gilbert overheard Durham yelling obscenities at Lashonda Coles, Gilbert’s girlfriend, while she was on the phone with Durham’s girlfriend. Durham got into a verbal altercation with Coles after she asked her friend why she was with “the guy that knocked her teeth out,” according to prosecutors. Both Coles and Durham lived in the same apartment building at Tall Oaks Circle in Moriches, and the argument resulted in Gilbert challenging Durham to “meet me outside,” according to the press release.

Durham and his girlfriend went outside of the apartment, when Gilbert and Coles appeared around the corner of the building, according to the district attorney. Gilbert fired a .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun at Durham six times, striking him three times in the body, prosecutors said. Durham was pronounced dead within one hour of his transport to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue. Gilbert fled the scene but surrendered to Suffolk County Police on Dec. 1, 2021 after retaining his lawyer, according to the district attorney.

During the trial, Tyrell’s girlfriend identified Gilbert as the shooter, according to the press release. Coles corroborated the altercation between Gilbert and Durham and testified she saw Durham shot and saw a gun in Gilbert’s hand, according to the press release. Additional eyewitnesses also corroborated the events and DNA evidence taken from a slide sandal found at the parking lot of the apartment complex put Gilbert at the scene, prosecutors said.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com