The Chief
March 20, 2009

2nd Murder Conviction In Police Officer's Killing

Woods Faces Life

By TOMMY HALLISSEY

Tatyana Timoshenko with his partner, Herman Yan

The Chief-Leader/Tommy Hallissey

WAITING ON JUSTICE: Tatyana Timoshenko, whose son Russel was murdered while he made a routine traffic stop in Brooklyn two years ago, waits with his partner, Herman Yan, outside Brooklyn Supreme Court during a break in the trial of one of the accused killers, Lee Woods.

Lee Woods, one of three men charged in the fatal shooting of Police Officer Russel Timoshenko on a Brooklyn street two years ago, was convicted of murder March 16.

Several dozen cops who crowded into the courtroom and sat quietly while Brooklyn Supreme Court jurors delivered their verdict exploded in jubilation when they exited moments later.

PBA Head 'Gratified'

"We are absolutely gratified," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said, "that this jury took the time to … [reach] a verdict that will keep this animal off the streets."

Mr. Woods faces life in prison when he is sentenced April 2. He had no visible reaction when he was convicted of two counts of murder and two others of criminal possession of a weapon.

Russel Timoshenko
RUSSEL TIMOSHENKO

Det. Herman Yan, who was Mr. Timoshenko's partner and was wounded during the shooting, said, "This won't bring Russel back, but hopefully this will ease the pain of the Timoshenko family.

The slain officer's mother, Tatyana, was present for the verdict.

All three of the men accused in the killing have been convicted, although one of them, Robert Ellis, was acquitted of murder last December but found guilty of weapons possession charges and sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Dexter Bostic, who was believed to have fired the shot that killed Officer Timoshenko, received a life sentence three weeks ago.

Found Wait Frustrating

The verdict came on the second full day of jury deliberations, and earlier that afternoon Mr. Lynch had expressed frustration that it was taking so long to resolve what he called "a cut-and-dry case."

Five days earlier, Mr. Woods exhibited either eccentricity or all the bravado necessary to commit the acts he was accused of when he briefly hijacked control of the courtroom from Justice Plummer Lott by refusing to decide whether to take the stand as the one and only defense witness in his retrial.

The prosecution closed its case before lunch March 11 by calling Mr. Timoshenko's mother, who broke down on the stand, telling of her trip to the hospital the night her son was shot in Crown Heights when he and his partner, Mr. Yan, stopped what they thought was a stolen BMW. Two of the men inside the car allegedly opened fire, fatally injuring Mr. Timoshenko and wounding Mr. Yan.

As Ms. Timoshenko spoke in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Mr. Woods sat stiffly with his arms and legs crossed, wearing a white shirt, sweater vest and khaki pants. When her testimony concluded the Brooklyn District Attorney's case, Mr. Woods's lawyer, Patrick Michael Megaro, said the defense would consist of just his client on the witness stand because he wanted the jury to focus on the evidence presented by the prosecution.

Lawyer Didn't Want Him on Stand

It was not apparent, then, however, that Mr. Woods had made up his mind about testifying.

"The bottom line is when you come back from lunch, the question is going to be whether you're going to testify or not," Justice Lott told him. "It's your call."

Mr. Megaro later acknowledged he counseled Mr. Woods not to testify after reading the transcript of his testimony in his first trial, which resulted in a mistrial after a juror became ill and a different defense attorney would not accept a replacement for her.

Just after 2 p.m., Court Officers brought Mr. Woods to face the judge with his cuffs shackled around his waist like the strands of braided hair knotted behind his head.

"Mr. Woods, what's your pleasure?" asked Justice Lott.

"I wanted to see if the DA rests their case," Mr. Woods replied.

The judge explained that the prosecution had no more witnesses.

"At that time we will let you know," Mr. Woods said somewhat puzzlingly.

Mystified Cops

Cops from the 71st Precinct, where Mr. Timoshenko worked, whispered back and forth trying to figure out what this meant.

Justice Lott explained to Mr. Woods that he did not want to call jurors in if the defendant was not going to testify because they would be promptly removed since the defense had no other witnesses. Mr. Woods defiantly refused to give a decision.

The judge finally broke an uncomfortable silence by calling in the jury. As they walked in, Mr. Woods playfully tossed his braids with his right hand.

As the prosecution formally rested its case, Mr. Woods and his attorney continued to confer.

Clearly angered by the delay, Justice Lott called, "Does the defense wish to put on a case?"

Lawyer and client turned to each other one final time and then Mr. Megaro stood up and said, "At this time, the defense rests."

'A Drama King'

The lawyer said outside court later that Mr. Woods was indecisive but was also likely to be playing to the crowd. "He's a drama king," Mr. Megaro said.

Justice Lott then read through the charges against the defendant as a black female Police Officer stared at the back of Mr. Woods's head, her eyes heavy with thought. Ms. Timoshenko sat in the second row with her head down and hands folded as if in prayer as her son's name was mentioned repeatedly.

The case was sent to the jury the next day.