By Conor Greene
A Middle Village man and his high school friend have been convicted in Suffolk County in the murder and dismemberment of two Long Island men after a drug deal gone bad.
Darren Lynch, 29, of 68th Avenue, was found guilty of first-degree murder and James Wall, 28, of Coram, was convicted of second-degree murder charges after a jury deliberated for 90 minutes last Friday, according to the Suffolk County district attorney. Both men were also found guilty of first-and-second-degree kidnapping.
During the trial, Lynch testified that he shot and killed Joseph Odierno, 35, of Miller Place, and Jairo Santos, 22, of Washington Heights, because he was “infuriated” that the two men had sold him $30,000 worth of fake cocaine. He admitted on the stand that he shot the men, dismembered their bodies in his Middle Village apartment and buried the body parts behind his parent’s house in Coram.
A third defendant in the case, Lynch’s 24-year-old live-in girlfriend, Leah Reynolds, pleaded guilty in May to weapons possession and hindering prosecution charges and will be sentenced at a later date. However, the couple also faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon and drug possession in Queens as a result of items found in the 68th Avenue apartment following the murders, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Reynolds was arraigned on the ten-count indictment on October 19 and is due back in court in December, while a warrant has been issued for Lynch’s arrest on those charges.
In Suffolk County, Lynch faces a maximum penalty of life in prison without parole and Wall faces up to 25 years in prison. District Attorney Thomas Spota said the people will recommend maximum sentences for each at their formal sentencing on December 11.
Authorities say the trouble began when Lynch asked Odierno, Santos and a third man, later identified as Ricardo McKoy, to sell him a kilo of cocaine. After paying th dealers $30,000, he realized the bag contained sugar and baking powder, at which point he pulled a gun on Odierno, Santos and McKoy and forced them to drive him to Washington Heights to find the sellers who ripped him off.
McKoy was able to get away after Lynch instructed him to go inside the apartment to find the dealers. Lynch then brought Odierno and Santos to his Middle Village apartment, where he tied them up and shot them several times. He then placed the bodies in the bathtub and cut them up before transporting them to Long Island. Police accused Reynolds of helping Lynch transport the bodies and hiding three handguns at her parent’s Long Island home.
The investigation moved forward when Odierno’s wife activated the OnStar tracking system on her husband’s Cadillac several days after his disappearance and tracked the vehicle to Middle Village. The break in the case came when police located McKoy, who told them that Lynch had kidnapped Odierno and Santos.