April 11, 2014

Marcell Dockery charges upgraded to felony murder after death of Officer Dennis Guerra


 (Credit: Theodore Parisienne)  
Marcell Dockery, 16, is walked at the 60th Precinct on West 8th Street in Brooklyn on Monday, April 7, 2014, after he was arrested for his alleged involvement with a fire in Brooklyn that resulted in critical injuries to two NYPD officers.   

Charges were upgraded to felony murder Friday against the 16-year-old from Brooklyn who police said started a Coney Island high-rise fire last weekend that led to the death of an NYPD officer, authorities said.

Marcell Dockery, a resident of the Surf Avenue building where the fire started, was initially charged with arson, assault and reckless endangerment in the Sunday afternoon mattress fire in which housing police officers Dennis Guerra, 38, and Rosa Rodriguez, 36, were overcome by dense smoke and toxic fumes.

After Guerra, a father of four from Queens, died Wednesday of smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, a Brooklyn grand jury indicted Dockery for felony murder in the second degree Friday, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth P. Thompson said in a statement.

Rodriguez, a mother of four also from Queens, remained in critical but stable condition Friday, said a police spokesman.

"The death of a police officer as a result of an intentional act not only affects an individual, it is indeed a direct assault upon society as a whole," Police Commissioner William Bratton told a crowd Wednesday at a One Police Plaza ceremony to mark Guerra's passing. "The entire city grieves this terrible loss."

Bratton had no comment Friday on the indictment.

Defense attorney Jesse Young told reporters Friday at Brooklyn criminal court that Dockery "is in fact innocent."

"He's a 16-year old boy -- a baby. He is not guilty of these charges," Young said.

Young maintained that any statements Dockery made to police did not amount to a confession. "We have seen in New York City where teenagers are forced to confess under duress by seasoned detectives," he said.

Young also said that Dockery knocked on the apartment doors to alert neighbors to the fire, an indication that he didn't want anyone to be hurt.

If convicted of the murder charge, Dockery faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch said in a statement Friday that the indictment, while welcomed, wouldn't bring Guerra back.

"At very least, it will start us on the road to achieving justice in this case," Lynch said.

Guerra will be buried Monday after a funeral Mass at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, 130 Beach 84th St., Rockaway Beach, at 11 a.m. Visiting is Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m. at James Romanelli-Stephen Funeral Home, 89-01 Rockaway Blvd., Ozone Park, Queens.

Guerra's death marks the NYPD's first line-of-duty fatality since December 2011, when Officer Peter Figoski of West Babylon was shot during a Brooklyn robbery.

Guerra leaves behind his wife, Cathy, and four children: Kathleen, 20; Jonathan, 17; Alyssa, 14; and Zachary, 7.

With Maria Alvarez