A father and son accused of murder and robbery in an alleged drug rip-off pleaded not guilty in Ulster County Court last week. Maurice Stansberry Sr., 38, and Maurice Stansberry Jr., 18, appeared before County Court Judge Donald Williams to enter their pleas on Jan. 24. A third defendant, Kevin Gardener, 18, also faces murder and robbery charges in the Dec. 1, 2018 incident that left Mark Lancaster, 38, of Kingston dead.
Police believe the incident occurred after the Stansberrys and Gardener met up with Lancaster and two other individuals for a pot deal at the Sawkill trailer park around noon on Dec. 1. Prosecutors believe the deal involved about two ounces of marijuana. During the deal, cops believe one of the three defendants produced a handgun and robbed Lancaster and his companions. The suspects then fled in a car; police believe Lancaster followed in his own vehicle. The chase ended at a spot near 341 Sawkill Road — there, police believe, one of the three alleged robbers opened fire from inside the vehicle, striking Lancaster in the torso. He was pronounced dead at HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley’s Broadway campus a short time later.
All three suspects were taken into custody within 12 hours of the shooting. Prosecutors have said that video from a dashboard camera of a vehicle on the scene captured the incident.
Prosecutors have not yet said who possessed the gun or who shot Lancaster. The Stansberrys and Gardener are charged under the state’s “felony murder” statute, which allows for conviction on murder charges based on a defendant’s participation in a crime during which someone is killed, whether or not they actually carried out the murder. Stansberry Jr. is free on $200,000 bail and is back attending Kingston High School. At last week’s arraignment he pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery.
Fire my lawyer
Stansberry Sr., who along with Gardener remains incarcerated at the Ulster County Jail, asked County Court Judge Donald Williams to remove the Ulster County Public Defender’s Office from the case and assign him a new attorney. Stansberry Sr. complained that the Public Defender’s Office had waived his right to a preliminary hearing without consulting him first. In response, Williams said that the decision to waive the hearing was at the discretion of his defense attorney and he was not entitled to choose among taxpayer-funded lawyers. Stansberry Sr. then indicated that he would seek private counsel.