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Murder trial testimony concludes; closing statements set for Monday

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CANTON — Testimony concluded Friday in the murder trial of three Ogdensburg men after a final witness was hauled back to Northern New York from the nation’s capital to answer questions about a telephone conversation he said he had with one of the defendants.

“He had asked me if I wanted to help rob somebody,” Alex A. Mozingo testified Friday morning about a discussion with Anthony W. Lalonde in November 2010.

Ogdensburg residents Lalonde, Michael D. Durand and Michael S. Thorpe are charged with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the Nov. 18, 2010, death of Ralph E. “Gene” Lawton, 83, who lived in an upstairs apartment at 930 Ford St., Ogdensburg.

Mr. Mozingo, 31, Washington, D.C., formerly of Ogdensburg, was flown north Thursday night under police escort after St. Lawrence County Judge Jerome J. Richards authorized his arrest in response to a material witness application by the prosecution.

Mr. Mozingo said he used to work with Lalonde’s girlfriend, which was how he knew the defendant. He recalled speaking with Lalonde on the morning of Mr. Lawton’s death.

“He just said it was an old guy,” Mr. Mozingo said, telling Chief Assistant District Attorney Amanda N. Nissen that he was told the object of the alleged heist was to be “some money.”

Investigators have said three masked intruders menaced Mr. Lawton and his roommate, Guy C. Bartlett with a wooden object.

Lalonde, then 31, of 1106 Ford St.; Thorpe, then 25, of 904 Elizabeth St., and Durand, then 29, of 513 Elizabeth St., are accused of causing severe injuries to Mr. Lawton that led to his death. Mr. Bartlett has testified that the masked intruders tossed him onto his roommate.

The men allegedly fled with more than $1,000 and prescription drugs.

Mr. Mozingo said Lalonde invited him to act as lookout.

“He said he had a map drawn up of the house, gloves, a mask,” Mr. Mozingo said.

Ms. Nissen asked Mr. Mozingo how he replied to the alleged invitation.

“I told him I don’t rob people, especially old people. They could have a heart attack and die,” Mr. Mozingo told the prosecutor.

More than two dozen witnesses took the stand during the trial, in which testimony began April 19.

Among the defendants, only Thorpe testified on his own behalf, called to the stand Thursday by his attorney, William John Galvin.

Closing statements are scheduled to begin Monday morning, with the jury expected to begin deliberations before day’s end, Judge Richards said.

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