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Jury finds Tyus, Armadore guilty of murdering Todd Thomas in New London

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A jury in the cold case murder of Todd “T-Rek” Thomas delivered a quick verdict Thursday, finding Darius “P-Nut” Armadore and Gerjuan “Cali” Tyus guilty of murder after less than a full day of deliberations in Superior Court in Norwich.

Tyus and Armadore, both 35, each face up to 60 years in prison when Judge Arthur C. Hadden sentences them on Jan. 15. 

As the defendants were being led from the courtroom following the verdict, Armadore turned to the victim’s mother and snarled an obscenity, according to witnesses in the courtroom.

Melba and John Thomas Sr., who are both deaf, had attended most of the trial and followed the testimony as it was transcribed onto a computer screen by an interpreter.

Keri Carter-Thomas, the victim’s wife, cried with joy after hearing the verdict.

“I’m so glad that justice has been served, finally,” she said. “I called my kids and told them it’s over. It’s finally over.”

Prosecutors Paul J. Narducci and David J. Smith had tried the case together.

“We think the jury paid very close attention in the course of a difficult and long trial,” Smith said. “There was a lot of evidence that was difficult to connect, and they clearly paid attention as they reached the correct verdict.”

“I want to thank the hardworking efforts of detective (Richard) Curcuro, New London police, and the cold case squad,” Narducci said. “They did a phenomenal job under very difficult circumstances.”

The defendants’ attorneys, Christopher Duby and John Franckling, left the courthouse shortly after the verdict was read and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Armadore’s siblings and other supporters also had watched the trial.

The evidence showed that Tyus had been feuding with Thomas about gold chains that Thomas’ brother, John “John John” Thomas, had given to Tyus while under the influence of PCP.

According to testimony, Todd Thomas, seeking to get the expensive jewelry back, had exchanged gunfire with Tyus during a drive-by shooting on Dec. 3, 2006.

Twenty days later, prosecutors said Armadore, working on Tyus’ behalf, shot Thomas in the head with a 9 mm handgun as he stood outside of Ernie’s Cafe on Bank Street in New London smoking a cigarette.

The two men fled in a gray Malibu rented by Tyus’ girlfriend.

Police quickly suspected Tyus and Armadore, but with limited physical evidence and witnesses unwilling to provide statements, they had trouble obtaining arrest warrants.

City police detective Curcuro began working with the Southeastern Connecticut Cold Case Task Force in 2011, and in 2012, after presenting evidence to a judge serving as a grand jury, the police obtained warrants charging the two men with murder and conspiracy.

“I’m so grateful to Detective Curcuro,” Carter-Thomas said, following the verdict. “He never gave up.”

The prosecution had called Curcuro to the witness stand three times during the trial as they presented hundreds of exhibits collected as evidence in the drive-by shooting and the homicide.

One of the key witnesses at the trial was Ritchae “Shea” Ebrahimi, the mother of Armadore’s son.

She testified earlier this week that Armadore had broken down the morning after Thomas’ death and told her he had shot someone.

She entered into a witness protection program in 2012 and was relocated out of state.

Tyus and Armadore both testified in their own defense on Wednesday, admitting to their lengthy criminal records but denying involvement and saying they did not know the victim.

The 12-member jury listened to playback of testimony from Ebrahimi and two other witnesses, Kevin “Web” Thorn and Rashard “Flex” Johnson, before returning the guilty verdicts.

Thorn was standing near Thomas when he was shot and had been speaking on the phone with Tyus throughout the night, according to testimony.

Thorn said he didn’t know Thomas but said that Tyus was his “weed man.”

Johnson had been standing with Tyus when Tyus was shot in the back and leg during the drive-by shooting.

k.florin@theday.com

Twitter: @KFLORIN

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