An appeals court has tossed a murder conviction against a Brooklyn woman serving life in prison for hiring a paid killer to off her husband, ruling that the trial judge screwed up while giving instructions to the jury.
Alishia Noel-Murray, 34, who was found guilty in 2017 of paying an assassin $3,500 to kill her hubby Omar Murray, will get a new trial, the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department ruled on Wednesday.
Noel-Murray hid upstairs with her 10-month-old baby as her husband was fatally shot inside their Brownsville home on Feb. 24, 2013.
The four-judge panel determined that Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Neil Firetog never instructed the jury that the prosecution’s star witness, Noel-Murray’s lover, Dameon Lovell, was an accomplice to the crime and his testimony must be corroborated as a matter of state law.
Lovell testified against Noel-Murray and the hired killer, Kirk Portious, as part of a plea deal, and was sentenced to 15 years to life.
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Portious was convicted at a separate trial, and is also serving a life sentence. The prosecution presented additional evidence against Portious, but the case against Noel-Murray hinged on Lovell’s testimony, the appeals panel wrote in a four-page ruling.
“We are pleased that the Appellate Division agreed with our argument that Ms. Noel did not receive a fair trial,” said Noel-Murray’s Legal Aid lawyer David Crow.
“The trial court failed to instruct the jury on a fundamental legal principle: an accomplice’s testimony must be examined with special care in light of his interest in testifying falsely to save his own skin. Without the alleged accomplice’s testimony, the state did not have a case.”
Prosecutors argued that Noel-Murray first tried to kill her husband in October 2012 by poisoning his dinner after she found out he cheated on her with a prostitute.
When that failed, she started an affair with Lovell and told him she wanted someone to kill Murray, 37, and that she needed her spouse dead to collect three life insurance policies worth $900,000, prosecutors alleged.
Noel-Murray remains in state prison as the case works its way back to Brooklyn Supreme Court.
“We will review the decision,” said Oren Yaniv, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.