Day six of Kelvin Vickers trial postponed after inmate overdose
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The trial will resume on Monday at 9:30 a.m. Friday was supposed to be the second day of testimony in the trial of the man accused of killing Officer Anthony Mazurkiewicz and wounding his partner Officer Sino Seng.
Instead, it’s been rescheduled to Monday due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
Sources tell News10NBC that defendant Kelvin Vickers was with someone who overdosed in the Monroe County Jail. For that reason, he was required to be observed for 12 hours, which would have stretched into the start of the trial Friday.
A spokesperson for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says Vickers’ health is fine and he never left the jail.
Vickers is facing 24 charges for crimes that happened over the span on three days in July of 2022. Prosecutors say that Vickers, an alleged gang member brought in from Boston, shot two RPD officers on Bauman Street on July 21 while they were working undercover.
Vickers is also also accused of shooting three other men on North Clinton Avenue the day earlier. Two of those men, Ricky Collinge Jr. and MyJel Rand, died. Mazurkiewicz and his partner were investigating those murders and an illegal marijuana trade when they were ambushed in their unmarked car.
News10NBC investigative reporter Jennifer Lewke will be covering the trial from start to finish at the Hall of Justice. You can follow her on Twitter for the latest updates.
It was an emotional day Thursday for those who knew and loved Rochester Police Officer Tony Mazurkiewicz, as his fellow officers who were with him when he died told the jury what happened.
Kelvin Vickers is on trial for Officer Mazurkiewicz’s murder. Prosecutors say Vickers fired more than a dozen shots into the van Mazurkiewicz and his partner, Officer Sino Seng, were sitting in, during an undercover detail in July 2022.
A number of members of the Rochester Police Tactical Unit, who were on that same undercover detail, testified Thursday. It was a very tough day for them — and for Mazurkiewicz’s family, who has been in the courtroom for the entirety of this trial.
These tactical officers were with Mazurkiewicz during his final moments. Some pulled him out of the minivan after he had been shot, and carried him to a police cruiser. One of them sat behind him on the way to the hospital, holding him up, trying to keep him awake and breathing.
More than a half dozen of these officers told the jury of what happened in the few minutes leading up to the shooting and what happened after.
It turns out that Mazurkiewicz was on the phone with his sergeant when the shots were fired. His last words to him were “Shots fired, send the cars.” Fellow tactical team members were within a block and raced to the scene. One testified to helping Officer Sino Seng, who had been shot in the legs but was able to get out and draw his gun. Other officers testified to helping get Mazurkiewicz out of the van and into the back of a police cruiser. They said they made a decision to take him to Strong Memorial Hospital because his injuries were bad.
Every member of the tactical team said they stayed at Strong with the Mazurkiewicz family until his body was released to the medical examiner.
“They were all there that evening, they all had bits and pieces of evidence to contribute to the overall picture that we’re trying to paint for the jury,” Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley said. “It was very emotional for a lot of them — Officer Mazurkiewicz was their friend, they had worked with him for years, some of them have known him for over a decade.”
One of those tactical officers testified to staying behind initially to set up a perimeter in hopes of finding the person who shot his colleagues. He said he noticed a vacant home nearby and gathered a team of officers to search it. That’s where they found Kelvin Vickers hiding, according to the testimony, with no shirt or shoes, just wearing long shorts.
Under cross-examination by Vickers’ defense attorney, all of the tactical officers said they did not know that there had been a shooting on that same street a day earlier before they were assigned to surveil a home on it.
“That’s going to be critical to intent here because again, you have officers who are over there, investigating or doing surveillance, not knowing that there’s been this violence, gang violence between these two factions for the past 48-72 hours and 32 shots had been fired at 55 Laser Street,” said Mike Schiano, Vickers’ defense attorney. “And now you have all these people just making laps around this house — and again, you’ll see video later on either this week or next week that shows these individuals on edge during the course of this whole period of time.”
The District Attorney’s Office wrapped up it’s case in the North Clinton Avenue murders after four days of testimony. The final witness in the murders of Myjel Rand and Ricky Collinge Jr. was a police investigator.
During his testimony, jurors saw a compilation of videos that showed Kelvin Vickers inside a known drug house with what appears to be a gun in his hand.
That house had a number of cameras in and around it, and that’s all video that the jury has and will be seeing throughout this trial. The DA’s Office has now moved on to their case against Vickers in the murder of Officer Tony Mazurkewicz.
Maz’s wife Lynn has been in the courtroom since the start of this trial and Wednesday she was joined by her husband’s former longtime partner and best friend, Dennis Cole. Several members of the Rochester Police Tactical Unit have also sat with Lynn throughout this trial.
“I do think that the video is of such quality and clarity that the jury should not have any difficulty in determining for themselves what actually happened,” says Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles.
“There’s been an ongoing dispute between a number of factions in the city that were turf wars, there was shootings going back and forth between these two gangs,” explains Vickers’ defense attorney, Mike Schiano. “It was a very violent time in the City where these people were shooting up houses, burning cars, and basically shooting at each other during a two to three week period, and I think you’ll hear more about that over the course of the next two to three weeks.”
Day three (Tuesday)
Multiple evidence technicians, the people who recovered bullet casings and other objects on North Clinton Avenue after the shooting, took the stand on Tuesday.
The District Attorney’s Office asked RPD evidence technician Ryan Radel whether any of the casings or projectiles on North Clinton Avenue looked rusted or had been sitting there for a while. He answered no. Defense has argued that shootings happen frequently on North Clinton Avenue so it’s difficult to determine if Vickers was the gunman.
Radel also testified about collecting bullet fragments that the Medical Examiner’s Office recovered from the body of at least one of the gunshot victims. The jury also heard from technicians who gathered surveillance and security video from cameras in the area.
Jerry Ingram, who lives in the North Clinton Avenue neighborhood, was the first witness to take the stand on Monday. Ingram said he was outside watering a garden with his grandkids when he heard multiple gunshots. He described it as a small, “wagon” type vehicle speed away from the scene.
Ingram say the vehicle he saw leave the crime scene is the same vehicle captured on a traffic camera at a nearby intersection. During cross examination, he said his neighborhood has been “infiltrated” by crime.
After Ingram, RPD Sergeant Matthew Webster, among the first officers to respond to the North Clinton Avenue shooting, took the stand. Webster said he tracked a Dodge Caliber from the scene of the shooting all the way to Avenue D. Then, he lost it on the blue light cameras. Webster said he later got a call about a car, a Dodge Caliber, on fire on Weyl Street.
RPD Officer Richard Schone also took the stand. He responded to the North Clinton Avenue shooting and found Tireek Burden, the victim who survived, with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Burden is the nephew of Collinge who was killed. The jury saw the officer’s body-worn camera video, where Burden can be heard saying “Omg, bro is my nephew dead?” Despite his leg injury, he tries to get up and limp around the corner to see his nephew.
Dr. John Deangelis, an emergency room physician at Strong Hospital, testified that he treated Tireek Burden. He found metallic fragments through the leg consistent with a gunshot wound.
Dr. Deangelis confirmed that the fragments he removed from Burden’s leg are the fragments that the DA’s office entered into evidence. Dr. Deangelis also treated Myjel Rand, who eventually died at the hospital. He was initially awake and talking, despite having a bullet in his elbow and right side of his body.
When Rand went into surgery, his vitals declined and doctors found blood in his belly along with other severe internal damage. He survived initial surgery but his health continued to decline until he died. Doctors retrieved bullet fragment in the right abdomen near his spine.
The trial began on Thursday with the prosecution and defense delivering opening statements. It was delayed on Friday because a juror had food poisoning and a witness for the District Attorney’s office was also sick.
Opening statements lasted about an hour and then testimony began. During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Perry Duckles told the courtroom Mazurkiewicz’s last words, which were: “Shots fired. Start the cars.” He said Seng will testify during the trial.
“Shortly after 9:17 p.m., he would be rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital by members of the Rochester Police Department’s Tactical Unit,” Duckles said. “Despite the efforts of medical personnel, he would die later that night. His brothers and sisters in blue standing by, his partner Sino Seng, was lucky enough to survive the ambush, though that is small comfort. He was injured in the line of duty but survived and you will hear from him during the course of this trial.”
Mike Geraci, Vickers’ attorney, reminded jurors to keep and open mind and to assume that Vickers is innocent.
“You promised that you would do a number of things performing your duties as jurors,” Geraci said. “You promised you would keep an open mind and uphold the law as instructed by Judge Hahn. That law, very importantly, includes presumption of innocence. As we sit here today, Kelvin is cloaked by that presumption.”
Before opening statements, the victims’ families walked in the courtroom together. Lynn Mazurkiewicz, the wife of Tony Mazurkiewicz sat in the front row of the gallery about 10 feet from Vickers. The parents of Ricky Collinge Jr. were also in the courtroom. The mother of Collinge Jr. spoke with News10NBC about the murder of her son.
Some RPD command staff attended the trial in plain clothes. Only 10 uniformed officers are allowed in the courtroom at a time because of percent set years ago but plain clothes officers are allowed.
Vickers remained fairly stoic during the first day, at times leaning over to his attorneys to talk about the testimony given. At one point, during a short recess, the Mazurkiewicz family stood up together, staying in the courtroom to look him in the face as he was taken into a holding room in the back.
“The family will be here everyday, members of law enforcement will be here everyday,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. “We have support from my office that will be with them but you also have to remember the two other individuals here, their families will be here as well and we intend to support them. What we plan to do is present this case chronologically and in an order that the jury can understand what happened over the course of three days.”
Lead-up to the trial
The trial began after three days of jury selection, which wrapped up on Wednesday with the selection of the final two jurors and four alternates. Attorneys and a judge screened 220 people and selected six men and six women of all different races and walks of life.
Investigators say Vickers was part of a nationwide gang and was brought in from Boston to retaliate against rival drug dealers. Mazurkiewicz and Seng were in plain clothes, working an undercover investigation into an illegal marijuana trade and the shootings on North Clinton Avenue, when they were ambushed in their car. Within hours, Vickers was found hiding in a crawl space in a vacant house on Laser Street and taken into custody. Police say they found the gun used to shoot the officers with him.
RPD says that, while ambushing the two officers, Vickers also hit a then-15-year-old girl with a stray bullet. The charges for shooting the 15-year-old were dropped.
The most serious charge Vickers faces is aggravated murder for killing Officer Mazurkiewicz and aggravated attempted murder for wounding Officer Seng. For the jury to find him guilty on those charges, prosecutors need to prove that Vickers knew he was shooting officers.
Prosecutors charged Vickers under the 2005 Police Officer Protection Act. If Vickers is found guilty of the aggravated murder of Mazurkiewicz under the act, he’ll automatically get life in prison without a chance at parole. Vickers’ other charges include assault, possessing illegal guns, and arson for allegedly setting a car on fire.
News10NBC’s prior coverage:
- Vickers to be tried separately in RPD officer’s murder case (Aug. 2023)
- U.S. Attorney: Bloods in Rochester last summer, gang war led to murder of Officer Mazurkiewicz (June 2023)
- Gang-affiliated drug war exposed by RPD included shootings, murders and arson over marijuana (Oct. 2022)
- RPD: Alleged cop killer hired to kill rival gang members in an ongoing marijuana drug war (Oct. 2022)
- RPD says Kelvin Vickers came to Rochester alongside others to kill rival marijuana dealers (Oct. 2022)
- Arson links murder cases including the shooting death of RPD Officer Tony Mazurkiewicz (Sept. 2022)
- Family of accused cop killer speaks publicly for the first time and complains about jail conditions (Aug. 2022)
- Kelvin Vickers pleads not guilty to murder of RPD officer (Aug. 2022)
- Accused cop killer has a long rap sheet that starts when he was 12 (Aug. 2022)
- 15-year-old shot in gunfire that killed RPD officer says it’s ‘really scary because I was just in my own house’ (July 26)