(SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney today announced that Michael Gilbert, 29, of Riverhead was found guilty of Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, after a jury trial for fatally shooting Tyrell Durham following an argument the victim had with Gilbert’s girlfriend in 2021.
“A man is dead because a needless argument caused this defendant to pull a trigger and thoughtlessly take the victim’s life,” said District Attorney Tierney. “One has to wonder if the defendant, who is now convicted of murder and faces 40 years in prison, thinks it was worth the time.”
The evidence at trial established that on November 26, 2021, just after midnight, Gilbert overheard Tyrell Durham, 37, of Moriches, yelling obscenities at Lashonda Coles, Gilbert’s girlfriend, over the telephone. Coles, 30, was on the phone with her friend who was dating Durham. Both Coles and Durham resided in the same apartment complex in Tall Oaks Circle, Moriches on the opposite of each other in the same building. During that telephone call, Coles and Durham got into a verbal altercation because the victim overheard Coles ask her friend why she was with “the guy that knocked her teeth out.” Durham became angry and cursed at Coles. During the duration of that telephone call, the argument grew to include the defendant and Durham who then began yelling at each other. That argument resulted in Gilbert challenging Durham to “meet me outside.”
The victim and his girlfriend went outside of his apartment. Moments later, Gilbert and Coles appeared around the corner of the building, at which point the defendant fired a .22 caliber semiautomatic handgun at Durham six times, striking him three times in the body. Durham was pronounced dead within one hour of his transport to Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue. Gilbert fled the scene but later surrendered to Suffolk County Police Homicide Detectives on December 1, 2021, after retaining his attorney.
During the trial, Tyrell’s girlfriend identified Gilbert as the shooter, having known the defendant for nearly two decades, even previously attending middle school with him. Coles corroborated the verbal altercation between Gilbert and Durham and testified that she saw Durham shot outside of his apartment and that she saw a gun in Gilbert’s hand. Additional eyewitnesses corroborated the path Coles, and the defendant took to confront Durham, including the witnessing of Gilbert firing a gun six times.
During the investigation, six shell casings and six projectiles were recovered with three of the projectiles recovered from Durham’s body. All six shell casings were also determined to be fired from the same gun. Evidence presented at the trial included the results of swabs taken from a slide sandal recovered from the parking lot of the apartment complex, believed to point where Gilbert fled from the scene, which was near Cole’s apartment and a buccal swab was obtained from the defendant. Swabs taken from the slide sandal were analyzed by the Suffolk County Crime Laboratory, revealing a partial DNA profile. It was determined that the partial DNA profile previously obtained from the slide sandal matched Gilbert’s DNA profile.
On September 26, 2023, Gilbert was convicted after a jury trial, heard before Acting Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Anthony S. Senft, of Murder in the Second Degree, a Class A violent felony and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree, a Class C violent felony. Gilbert is due back in court on November 2, 2023 for sentencing and faces up to 40 years to life in prison. He is being represented by Jonathan Manley, Esq.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Eric S. Aboulafia of the Homicide Bureau with investigative assistance from Detective Jeffrey Bottari of the Homicide Squad.
Criminal complaints and indictments are merely accusatory instruments.
Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. No one is above the law.
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