Oscar Morel (center)
NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - A Queens jury on Friday convicted a Brooklyn man for the 2016 broad-daylight killings of a Muslim cleric and his assistant.
Oscar Morel, 37, shot Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee, 55, and Thara Uddin, 64, as they were leaving a prayer service at their mosque in Ozone Park on August 13, 2016. Akonjee was four times in the head and body and Uddin was shot once in the head, authorities said.
"This was a senseless act of gun violence in the middle of the afternoon and carried out in a close-knit neighborhood filled with families and children," District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "I am hopeful today's verdict will bring some closure to the family and many friends of the two men killed."
At trial, the DA never outlined a motive for the killings but did enter security camera video and firearms testing into evidence linking Morel to the shootings.
Video from near the scene of the shooting showed Morel exiting an SUV and then walk and run toward Akonjee and Uddin off camera. The same camera captured Morel running back to the SUV moments later and driving off.
Also, police found a .38-caliber revolver hidden behind a kitchen wall in Morel's apartment in Brooklyn. An analysis confirmed that the snub-nosed revolver fired the rounds that killed the victims, according to trial records.
The jury found Morel guilty of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder, and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. At his sentences on April 18, Morel faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"The defendant's actions caused immeasurable grief—not only to the victims' families, but the slaying struck at the heart of the Muslim community of Queens," Brown said. "The defendant now faces spending the rest of his natural life locked behind bars."