STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Identifying the man who pulled a gun on a priest and knocked him out.
In essence, that’s what Antwyne Lucas’ robbery trial boils down to, and on Tuesday afternoon his lawyer tried to shake the Rev. Marc Roselli’s identification of Lucas to cops as the main holdup man.
In the morning, Roselli, a Roman Catholic priest, testified two men surrounded him as he went to open the rectory door at St. Mary of the Assumption-Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta R.C. Church, in West Brighton, at around 5:15 a.m. on June 2, 2016.
One man held a gun to his stomach, the priest testified, then punched him, knocking him out after he had given the man his wallet, cell phone and car keys.
At a lineup at the 120th Precinct later that night, Father Roselli identified the man with the gun, who, prosecutors maintain, is Lucas, 45, of Brooklyn.
The 62-year-old priest, however, could not identify Lucas in court Tuesday as his assailant.
In a bid to cast doubt on the lineup identification, defense lawyer Mark J. Fonte noted discrepancies between Father Roselli’s description of the man with the gun at a grand jury proceeding and in a 911 call to cops.
In the 911 call, Father Roselli told an operator the man with the gun was an African-American wearing a white T-shirt. He could not describe the man’s appearance any further.
In his grand jury testimony about a week after the mugging, Father Roselli testified that the man in the white T-shirt was not wearing a hat.
However, Father Roselli testified Tuesday both men wore hats. A grainy video of the incident shows the two hatted men.
Father Roselli said he had discussed the discrepancy in that portion of his grand jury testimony with prosecutors prior to taking the stand Tuesday.
As for the 911 call, Father Roselli said, under re-direct testimony elicited by Assistant District Attorney Adam Silberlight, that he was “very shaken and upset” when he spoke to the 911 operator.
“The person I was speaking to on the phone, I didn’t see her in an official capacity,” he testified. “I was just shaken and wanted to get back to the church.”
Continuing to hammer away, Fonte noted the holdup only took about four seconds from start to finish, according to time markings on the video tape. He seemed to suggest Father Roselli may not have seen the man with the gun very clearly and possibly misidentified him.
State Supreme Court Justice Mario F. Mattei sustained Silberlight’s objection when Fonte told the priest someone else had been identified as the person with the gun.
A criminal complaint prosecutors prepared on June 3, 2016, had identified Pack as the man who pressed a gun against the priest’s ribs. The complaint said both men punched the priest and forcibly stole his car keys, car, phone and other property while acting in concert.
In September of last year, Pack, 41, of West Brighton, pleaded guilty in state Supreme Court, St. George, to attempted second-degree robbery to satisfy all charges against him.
In exchange, he was sentenced in January, as a persistent violent felon, to 12 years to life in prison.
The defense is precluded from bringing up that information at Lucas’ trial because it is considered hearsay and not a prior inconsistent statement of Father Roselli.
As for the lineup, Father Roselli testified he identified the man with the gun solely by looking at his face. The priest said the clothing worn by the six individuals in the lineup was covered by a tarp.
But in a photo of the lineup entered into evidence, the top portion of that man’s white T-shirt is visible.
Father Roselli testified that the T-shirt was covered when he picked out that man, and he has “no doubt” that person was one of the two men who mugged him.
The trial resumes tomorrow with more prosecution witnesses taking the stand.
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