Photo: Jeff Bachner/NewYorkDailyNews
Dockery, “I was forced to confess to the crime to protect my family”
“They told me they would evict my family if I didn’t say the truth,” said Marcell Dockery who testified on his own behalf in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Dockery, then 16, gave a false confession to detectives that he set a twin mattress on fire inside the 13th floor hallway of 2007 Surf Avenue because he was bored, according to his attorney Jesse Young. The April 6, 2014 fire took the life of Officer Dennis Guerra and permanently injured the lungs of Officer Rosa Rodriguez.
“They said I was cold hearted and my family would love on the streets for the rest of their lives if I didn’t tell the truth,” said Dockery.
The now 18-year-old testified that he told detectives several times that he did not set the fire and “was trying to save lives.”
Dockery was returning home after playing basketball with his friends at a park nearby his Coney Island building before the flames grew around 12:30 p.m.
“I’m not allowed to have the keys to my apartment because I’m not trustworthy. I loss things,” said Dockery.
NYPD Officer Rosa Rodriguez had to be hospitalized by the toxic smoke the burning mattress emitted.
“There was white smoke, I knocked on my cousins door, they didn’t answer so I knocked on the lady down the hall’s door because someone in a wheelchair lives there and knocked,” said Dockery.
Noelia Torres, 50, said Dockery was outside her door as the flames grew.
“She told me to get out, I ran to my cousin’s door. They answered and we went down to my apartment on the 12th floor. (My cousin) called the fire department on his cell phone,” he said.
Photos of the charred 13th floor of Dockery’s building were used as evidence in his murder trial.
The detectives argued with Dockery about his heroic tale and told him “they had me for the crime they just wanted to know why I did it and if I had a problem with the lady or anyone in the building,” he said.
Dockery began to cry and prayed.
“They laughed at me. They said they would beat me up. No one will care about my screams. I asked them to ‘please believe me that I didn’t do this,'” Dockery told the jurors in a matter-of-fact tone.
At that moment, Dockery was allegedly denied calling his mother and was faced with an ultimatum.
A photo of the charred mattress was also used as evidence against the teen
“Detective Nash said the only way out was if I told them the truth I wouldn’t be charged. I asked ‘are you sure?’ Nash pulled out his cross and said ‘I swear you wouldn’t be charged,'” said Dockery.
“I just basically said ‘I did it.'”
Dockery said he was coached to write specific details in his written statement and to “sell the story” on video that it was an accident and he likes to set fires.
On cross-examination, Dockery admitted to lying to Rikers Island personnel that he was suicidal, heard voices and saw colors in order not to get put into solitary confinement.
The judge allowed prosecutors to introduce Dockery’s jail mishaps into evidence to show that he “will put his own interest above anyone else’s.”