Sawkill Road killing was over weed deal gone wrong, authorities say

Maurice Stansberry Sr., Maurice Stansberry Jr. and Kevin Gardener.

Police believe a Kingston man was shot and killed in a dispute over two ounces of marijuana following a car chase on Sawkill Road.

Maurice Stansberry, 38, his son, 17-year-old Maurice Stansberry Jr. and Kevin Gardener, 17, have been charged with second-degree murder in the Dec. 1 incident that left Mark Lancaster, 39 dead. The elder Stansberry, who police believe fired the fatal shot, is also charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

According to conversations with attorneys involved in the case and evidence presented at bail hearings in the week since the shooting, police believe the incident began with a dispute at the Sawkill trailer park between the Stansberrys and Gardener and another group that included Lancaster and two others. One source close to the investigation said that one of those involved in the dispute and a witness to the shooting was Lancaster’s own 17-year-old son. Cops believe the confrontation was over two ounces of marijuana. Following the dispute, police believe the Stansberrys and Gardener fled the trailer park, pursued by a car containing Lancaster and two more unidentified individuals. The pursuit ended just before noon near 341 Sawkill Road. According to attorney Joseph O’Connor, who represents Stansberry Jr., a video from a dashboard camera of a vehicle parked near the crime scene captured what happened next.

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“You can hear the shot coming from out of [Stansberry’s] car,” said O’Connor. 

After the shooting, Lancaster was taken to HealthAlliance Hospital’s Broadway Campus where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy would later cite a gunshot wound to the torso as the cause of death. One of the teen suspects (state police documents to not specify which) was taken into custody at the crime scene. Stansberry and a second teen were arrested in Kingston later that evening. All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Following a bail hearing last week, the elder Stansberry was sent to Ulster County Jail without bail. Bail for his son is set at $300,000. Gardener remains in the Ulster County Jail; it’s unclear if bail has been set. 

O’Connor described his client as a “good kid” who lived with his mother in Kingston and attended Kingston High School. Stansberry Jr. plays on the Kingston High School football team and, in May, appeared on the junior class honor roll. O’Connor said his client had received letters in support of his bail application from a number of his fellow students and some teachers at the school. Gardener’s attorney, Paul Gruner, said his client had recently dropped out of Kingston High School to look for work and was enrolled in a GED program. Gardener, he added, lived with his mother and stepfather in Kingston and had no previous criminal convictions. 

An obituary for Lancaster described him as a Kingston native and father of six, including a four-month-old daughter. The death notice said that Lancaster was an event promoter who enjoyed mixing music, skateboarding and gardening. 

“He was a crazy, bright and fun spirit in this world,” the obituary reads.

Attorneys for the accused said that they expected the case to go before an Ulster County grand jury in January. Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, say that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be brought.

“Frankly, at this point in the case it is too early to be commenting on any of the evidence,” said Gruner. “There is still a lot to be done in terms of investigating the case.”

There are 3 comments

  1. truther

    …and once again…legalize, regulate, control production, control sales, tax the heck out of it, the tax money goes to healthcare and schools, and the crime rate attached to it drops to zero as it has in the states where it is legal. No one gets shot, no one gets killed.

    1. Dean B.

      Legal or Not These Criminals Would Theft. They Would Hold Up And Rob a Legal Marijuana Dispensary. Legal Marijuana or not These 3 Belong in Jail, To Stay, hopefully they get Life….No Parole….

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