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Attempted Murder

On Sept. 27, Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) announced the conviction of a 33-year-old Centereach woman for attempting to murder her newborn son by smothering him with a pillow.

Soily Aparacio Santos was convicted for attempted murder for trying to smother her newborn child last year. Photo from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office

“It’s incomprehensible to imagine a mother trying to murder her newborn baby just minutes after he was born, but that is exactly what this defendant did,” Sini said. “It’s a miracle that the baby survived and now, thanks to the hard work of Assistant District Attorneys Shauna Kerr and Sarah Skahill, justice was served on behalf of this innocent victim.”

Soily Aparicio Santos was found guilty by a jury Sept. 26 of attempted murder in the second degree, attempted assault in the first degree, attempted assault in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child.

Last year, Santos attempted to smother her newborn son immediately after giving birth to him at her home in Centereach. A family member who was present in the residence saw the baby with a pillow over his head and called the police. The child was transported by the Centereach Fire Department to Stony Brook University Hospital for evaluation. He did not sustain any serious injuries and is currently in foster care.

Santos faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison. She is expected to be sentenced Nov. 1.

Suffolk County police arrested a woman May 10 who allegedly attempted to murder her newborn baby earlier this year.

Felicia Squillace gave birth at her home in Coram April 27 at approximately 1:30 p.m. The mother then allegedly wrapped the baby boy in a plastic bag and attempted to put the baby in a garbage bin outside. Two residents of the home heard the baby cry, took the bag from the mother, removed the baby and called police.

Following the birth, Squillace was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for medical treatment and evaluation. She was subsequently transferred to Brunswick Hospital in Amityville where upon her release she was arrested by detectives from the special victim’s section.

The baby was transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson for evaluation and has since been released to foster care.

Squillace, 26, was be held overnight at the 4th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on May 11. Attorney information was not immediately available.

Sheldon Leftenant, the man who allegedly shot police officer Mark Collins, is escorted out of the 3rd Precinct on his way to arraignment in March. File photo by Barbara Donlon

The Huntington Station man convicted of attempted murder of a police officer was sentenced in Riverhead on Monday morning to 55 years to life in prison, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said.

A jury convicted Sheldon Leftenant, 23, of attempted aggravated murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest on Jan. 26. On Monday, a judge sentenced him to 40 years to life on the attempted murder charge and 15 years to life on the weapons charge.

Spota said he was pleased with the sentence for Leftenant, who authorities have said is a member of the “Tip Top Boyz” street gang.

Police officer Mark Collins speaks after the sentencing of the Huntington Station man who shot him twice. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Police officer Mark Collins speaks after the sentencing of the Huntington Station man who shot him twice. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“I think the judge said it best, that this is a man who deserves absolutely no mercy,” he said. “He has no regard for human life. He certainly, on the evening of this occurrence, had no regard for the life of police officer [Mark] Collins and he deserved the maximum. I hope and I trust that he spends every single day of the remainder of his life in jail because that is where he belongs.”

Related: Leftenant pleads not guilty to attempted murder of police officer

Just before midnight on March 12, 2015, Collins, a 13-year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department, pulled over a speeding car in which Leftenant was a passenger near Mercer Court in Huntington Station. Collins, a plainclothes member of the 2nd Precinct gang unit, ordered Leftenant to exit the vehicle before the suspect started running, forcing the officer to chase him. Collins deployed his Taser twice on Leftenant, hitting him in the back. As the officer tried to handcuff the man, unaware of his suspect’s weapon, there was a struggle and Leftenant shot Collins twice — once in the neck and once in the hip.

Leftenant fled and was soon apprehended.

Collins survived the gunshot wounds. From the courthouse, he reacted to the Huntington Station man’s sentencing.

“I’m just happy to be here and be back to work and live a healthy life again,” Collins said.

He thanked everyone from his fellow officers to the staff at Stony Brook University Hospital for their help and support.

“I still have some lingering side effects but I am not going to let them hold me back. I have a whole different outlook on life, and a lot of things mean a lot more to me these days and I am happy to be here.”

Sheldon Leftenant's wife Angelica said her husband is innocent after the sentencing on Monday. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Sheldon Leftenant’s wife Angelica said her husband is innocent after the sentencing on Monday. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

He also said he was satisfied with Leftenant’s sentence.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said the case highlights the importance of the county supporting their law enforcement officials.

“Suffolk County will not stand for violence against our law enforcers,” he said after the sentencing. “It is that simple.”

Leftenant’s wife Angelica said she believes her husband did not have a fair chance in the case, saying that despite the verdict, he is not guilty.

“Sheldon Leftenant is innocent and we will prove that in an appeal,” she said. “Sheldon will be walking home on an appeal. I laughed [when I heard he was sentenced to 55 years] because he’s coming home. My husband will be walking home next to me. [The] case is going to be dropped.”

Robert Biancavilla, the deputy homicide bureau chief within the DA’s office, disagreed.

“Mr. Leftenant could not have been given a more fair trial in this case,” he said. “Everyone basically bent over backward to ensure that all of his rights were guarded and that he received a fair trial. The evidence against Mr. Leftenant was overwhelming and he to this day refused to acknowledge that or take responsibility for it.”

Sheldon Leftenant, the man who allegedly shot police officer Mark Collins, is escorted out of the 3rd Precinct on his way to arraignment in March. File photo by Barbara Donlon

A trial will begin Tuesday for a man accused of shooting an officer after fleeing a police stop in Huntington Station last winter.

Officer Mark Collins was seriously injured when he was shot in the neck and the hip on the night of March 11 during an alleged struggle with the suspect, 23-year-old Huntington Station resident Sheldon Leftenant, who has pleaded not guilty to attempted aggravated murder of a police officer, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and resisting arrest.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota said earlier this year that Leftenant faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.

Collins was in plainclothes while working for the 2nd Precinct’s gang unit on the night of the shooting, and helped pull over a car in which Leftenant was a passenger, Spota said. When asked to get out of the car, the suspect fled and Collins gave chase until he cornered Leftenant, an alleged member of the “Tip Top Boyz” street gang, on Mercer Court.

“He had his police-issued Taser in hand,” Spota said. “He never drew his weapon.”

The DA said at the time that Collins, who was unaware the suspect had a gun, used his Taser on Leftenant twice, hitting him in his back.

Sheldon Leftenant, the man who allegedly shot police officer Mark Collins, is escorted to his arraignment in March. File photo by Barbara Donlon
Sheldon Leftenant, the man who allegedly shot police officer Mark Collins, is escorted to his arraignment in March. File photo by Barbara Donlon

“While it brought the defendant to the ground, unfortunately it did not completely immobilize him,” Spota said.

When Collins went to handcuff Leftenant in that Mercer Court driveway, there was struggle, he said. A gun fired four times in quick succession and Collins was shot in the hip and in the neck, close to his carotid artery.

“Collins knew right away he had been shot because he couldn’t feel anything on his right side and he couldn’t move at all his right arm or his right leg,” Spota said.

To protect himself, the injured officer dragged himself over to a stoop and took cover under his bulletproof vest, facing it toward the suspect.

Spota said Leftenant fled after the shooting and dropped the weapon in the backyard of a neighboring property before hiding about a quarter of a mile from the scene.

Canine unit officers arrived and found both the gun allegedly used to shoot Collins as well as Leftenant.

At the time of Leftenant’s arraignment, defense attorney Ian Fitzgerald said his client was sorry to be in this situation, but wouldn’t comment any further.

A handful of the suspect’s family members were in the audience at that court appearance. They would not comment on Leftenant’s case either, but they left the courtroom chanting, “Free Shel.”

This case was not the first time Leftenant’s name had been involved in a shooting. About seven months earlier, he was shot in the groin while standing with a group of people in front of his Tippin Drive home, when two vehicles drove by and someone fired a gun.

At that time, police said Leftenant was originally treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Huntington Hospital and later underwent surgery at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

Although Collins was seriously wounded in the shooting last March, he has since recovered and returned to work, the DA’s office said recently, calling the officer “a decorated 13-year veteran.”

The two other shots from the .38-caliber revolver were found inside the home on whose property the struggle took place, the DA said, but no one inside at the time was injured.

Opening statements in Leftenant’s trial were scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in Riverhead.

 

A man has pleaded guilty to murdering his girlfriend outside their apartment and then firing on officers in a subsequent standoff, during which he held his two children hostage.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office announced on Wednesday that Jose C. Rodriguez will soon be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison for his two charges, second-degree murder and attempted aggravated murder of a police officer.

At the time of the shooting, in November 2013, the Suffolk County Police Department said officers responding to several 911 calls about hearing gunshots found a woman, 36-year-old Kimberly Sellitto, lying on the front lawn of the apartment in the Brookwood at Ridge complex, off of Middle Country Road. They moved her body to safety, but authorities later determined she was dead from a gunshot wound to the head.

Rodriguez, who is now 34, fired several shotgun rounds at those responding officers while he was barricaded in the apartment with his two children, the DA’s office said.

Emergency Service Section and Hostage Negotiation Team officers got Rodriguez to release his two children, police said at the time. Later on, the man fired multiple rifle rounds at officers.

None of the officers were hurt, police said, but bullets struck an armored SCPD vehicle.

The officers fired back, also not injuring Rodriguez. The man subsequently surrendered and was taken into custody, a couple of hours after the incident began.

The children were not hurt, and were released to the custody of their mother. Sellitto was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although Rodriguez originally pleaded not guilty to the charges and has been remanded to jail since the murder, he pleaded guilty during a pretrial hearing in Riverhead this week, the DA’s office said. He was scheduled to be sentenced in State Supreme Court to 30 years to life in prison on Jan. 8.

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