Murder suspect takes the stand in his own defense; jury to deliberate Tuesday

Updated: 06/30/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 06/30/2014 10:59 AM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean

A man accused of killing two people and trying to murder a police officer takes the stand at his trial. Ralph Strong told the jury what it felt like to have police bullets rip through his arm. Then he talked about how he shot back at the police officer.

Strong is accused of killing two people outside a city nightclub and then getting into a shootout with police two days later when they were trying to arrest him. 

Strong says he came out of hiding behind a house on North Goodman Street, only to see Rochester Police Sergeant Flamur Zenelovic. Strong says they shot at each other. Both were hit. 

Strong said, “I ran by him. He was on the ground and I shoot at the ground, boom, boom, boom!”

His lawyer asked, “Did you intend to shoot at him?”

Strong said, “Nah, I wasn’t aiming at him. I was just trying to run by him. He just kept shooting.”

The defense asked, “Did you ever intend to kill or seriously harm anyone?”

Strong answered, “No.”

Paul Vacca, Strong's attorney, said, “Never had intent to kill anybody, he never had intent to cause serious physical injury. He reacted to a situation.”

But then the prosecutor started going after Strong.

The prosecutor said, “You were trying to kill him.”

Strong answered, “No, because if I wanted to kill him, I could have when he wasn't looking. I didn't shoot at him until I got shot in the hip. I'm not going to say it was an accident, I wasn't aiming at him.”

Kelly Wolford, First Assistant District Attorney, said, “The jury had already heard, seen and been able to listen to a variety of evidence that really contradicted almost everything he said.”

Sergeant Zenelovic didn't want to talk to News10NBC Monday, but after his testimony he said this. 

Sgt. Flamur Zenelovic, shot by Ralph Strong, said, “I have no problem looking into his eyes and I want him to look into my eyes and to know that, ‘You didn't kill me. Your best efforts aside, you didn't kill me.’”

Strong is charged with murder, attempted murder and assault. The lawyers gave their closing arguments late Monday afternoon.  The jury starts deliberating late Tuesday morning. The judge has to explain the nuance of the law first thing Tuesday morning and then they go into that room and make up their mind. 

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