NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Kenneth Minor has been found guilty of murder in motivational speaker Jeffrey Locker’s death.
Minor claimed he was hired by Locker to help him kill himself, but the jury disagreed.
The defense argued Locker had driven to Harlem and searched for a hitman for himself. They claimed he was in deep debt and the money from a life insurance claim would help his family. Minor said Locker gave him the knife.
Locker was found dead in a car in East Harlem in July 2009.
Minor’s lawyer, Daniel Gotlin, tried to portray Locker as a puppeteer who engineered his own death. In his opening remarks in the case, Gotlin called Locker “the ultimate con man” who found “the ultimate sucker,” Minor.
Gotlin told WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell he thinks the jury rejected the assisted suicide defense because of the way the judge explained the charge to the jury.
“There’s a phrase you can be charged out of the courthouse and I think that’s what the judge did here. She mistakenly, in my belief, charged to the jury that assisted suicide only applies if you act passively and that is not what the statute says. She told them that if he actively participated in the death of Jeffrey Locker, even with Locker’s consent, he’s not entitled to that defense,” said Gotlin.
Prosecutors said the evidence didn’t support any kind of suicide-by-proxy argument.
During the trial, the defense brought a panhandler, Mel Fleming, to the witness stand who testified Locker asked him to find a hitman, although the crime needed to look like a robbery and murder.
The man told the court he had no intention of killing Locker, but he took $2,000 of up-front money and told him it would cost him over $10,000 to get “whacked.”