A Brooklyn man was convicted of murder Friday for the 2016 execution-style killings of a Queens imam and his associate as they walked home from a mosque in broad daylight.
After a three-week trial, a Queens jury found Oscar Morel, 37 years old, guilty of one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Prosecutors said Mr. Morel approached Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and his friend, Thara Uddin, and shot both of them at close range with a revolver in the Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens. The killings shook New York City’s Muslim community, members of which called the act a hate crime and requested additional security measures.
“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,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. “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.”
Michael Schwed, a lawyer representing Mr. Morel, said his client was devastated by the decision. Mr. Schwed said he thought the verdict would end up being reversed.
Mr. Akonjee, who migrated to the U.S. about five years before he was killed, was known in the community of families from Bangladesh to be reserved, rarely venturing beyond his neighborhood. The community has been working in recent years to raise money for a new mosque at the site, a project Mr. Akonjee started before his death.