A Mastic Beach man was convicted today after a jury trial in Suffolk County Criminal Court on weapons and drug charges in connection with a May 2022 shooting outside the River Pointe apartment complex on East Main Street, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney announced.
Messiah Booker, also known as Matthew Booker, 38, was found guilty in the May 20, 2022 shooting during a disturbance outside the 821 East Main Street complex that resulted in the injury of another person at the scene.
The shooting occurred while Booker was on parole release from prison on a prior felony conviction stemming from the fatal shooting of Dimitri Hampton, 21, during a home invasion in Flanders on Jan. 27, 2013. Booker was a participant in the home invasion that claimed the life of the Suffolk County Community College student and 2010 Riverhead High School graduate, who got into a scuffle with armed burglars who burst into the Flanders home of his cousin, where he was spending the night.
Booker had been charged with murder in Hampton’s death, but prosecutors were forced to enter into a plea deal with Booker after it was revealed at his trial that investigators had failed to turn over to defense attorneys, as required by law, more than 100 pages of notes, including evidence that others had confessed to the shooting. Booker pleaded guilty to attempted burglary in May 2017 and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was released on parole in July 2021.
Prior to his conviction in the home invasion, Booker had been convicted of Criminal Possession of a Loaded Firearm in the Third Degree, a class D felony, in 2006, and was sentenced to three years in prison, Tierney said.
“This defendant, a convicted felon on parole, pulled a loaded gun on a teenager, endangering his life, and then later fired that same gun outside of a crowded apartment complex, striking another person in the arm,” Tierney said.
According to Tierney, the evidence at trial established that on May 20, 2022, at approximately 3:50 p.m., Booker got into a verbal dispute with a teenager in the parking lot area of the apartment complex. As the argument escalated, Booker threatened to shoot the juvenile, and then briefly entered his black Jeep Compass before returning with a loaded gun in a fanny pack. Booker then began to pull the gun from the fanny pack, causing the juvenile to flee for his life. The victim’s family arrived at the apartment complex shortly thereafter, and Booker began to argue with them, Tierney said.
During the argument, a large crowd gathered in front of the building. Booker went back to his Jeep, retrieved the same loaded firearm from earlier, and shot at one of the people in the crowd. The bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck another victim in the forearm. Booker then fled the scene on foot.
Riverhead Town Police officers responded to the scene and located a 9 mm shell casing from the shooting. Booker’s Jeep, which was still at the scene, was impounded and searched pursuant to a search warrant. During the search, police recovered drugs including cocaine and morphine, over $1,000 in small denomination bills, four cell phones, walkie-talkies, a bullet-proof tactical vest, 9 mm ammunition, digital scales typically used to weigh narcotics, and drug packaging material including glassine envelopes.
Police detectives tracked Booker’s movements with assistance from the United States Marshals Service, and he was arrested May 31, 2022.
The jury today found Booker guilty of:
- two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, class C violent felonies;
- two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Fifth Degree with Intent to Sell, class D felonies;
- two counts of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the Seventh Degree, class A misdemeanors;
- one count of Criminally Using Drug Paraphernalia in the Second Degree, a class A misdemeanor; and
- one count of Menacing in the Second Degree, a class B misdemeanor.
Booker now faces 16 years to life in prison. He was remanded today to the custody of the Suffolk County Sheriff and is due back in court for sentencing on Feb. 27, Tierney said.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys William Richards and Raymond Coscia of the Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau, with investigative assistance from Detective Richard Freeborn of the Riverhead Town Police Department, Tierney said.
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