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Judge orders teen gang member detained

By Mike Donoghue, Vermont News First,

ST. ALBANS – A 16-year-old gang-affiliated member wanted on a second-degree murder charge in New York City for a shooting death during an armed robbery will remain in custody in Vermont following his arrest in Enosburgh over the weekend.

Christian Concepcion of the Bronx appeared briefly in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans on a fugitive charge on Monday afternoon.

Concepcion is also a person of interest in two homicide-related investigations in Burlington last year, authorities said.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Burlington arrested Concepcion in Franklin County on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution late Friday afternoon. He is wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of a store clerk at a smoke-shop known as “The Plug” in the Richmond Hills section of Queens, N.Y. in March 2023, records show.

Daryus “Swaggy” Clarke, 20, was shot in the chest as three robbers ran out of the store with $50 in THC and CBD products and $100 in cash, officials said.

Clarke died at a local hospital. Six shots could be heard on security video. He was the oldest of four children for a mother who had gone back to college recently, news accounts noted.

The Marshals Service in Vermont lodged Concepcion at the Marble Valley Regional Correctional Facility in Rutland on Friday night due to his age and his custody was officially turned over Monday to the state of Vermont to proceed with the fugitive charge.

Vermont State Trooper Adam Martin said the second-degree murder charge in New York carries a possible life sentence. The New York indictment also charges him with robbery and criminal possession of a firearm, records show.

Concepcion appeared by video in Vermont Superior Court in St. Albans from the Rutland prison on Monday afternoon.

Public Defender Mairead C. O’Reilly said her client would not agree to a voluntary return to New York City. Judge Alison S. Arms agreed to schedule a hearing on the extradition request in about a week. Arms noted Queens County had submitted a court petition demanding his appearance.

Deputy State’s Attorney Andy Watts asked that Concepcion be held without bail pending his removal to New York City. Arms noted the serious nature of the crime. The judge said she did not know much about Concepcion’s past court history, but said she would order him detained for now.

O’Reilly had said she and her client would take no position on the detention request until she has more time to talk to her client and his family. Arms also asked O’Reilly if she wanted to have a hearing on whether her teenage client should be held at an adult prison in Vermont. O’Reilly requested a hearing and that Concepcion be transported by deputy sheriffs to attend it. He turns 17 next month, records show.

The veteran judge said in court she would expect that hearing to be held within a day or two. Before the end of the day, the court had set it for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

New York authorities said Concepcion displayed the firearm when he entered the store for the noon hour robbery a year ago. The gun was first passed to another robber, Nestor Peters, who then passed it to Dekari Smith, the U.S. Marshals Service said.

NYC detectives believe that after the three robbers grabbed items and cash, Clarke, the clerk, began to struggle with Smith who then fired the fatal shot, Deputy U.S. Marshal M. Kevin McConkey said in court papers.

The three robbers, who have all been indicted, are captured on video fleeing the store, police said. They ran around the corner to a White Toyota Camry that an accomplice was using as their get-away car, police said.

Clarke was fatally shot in the chest, officials said. He was found on the floor near the store counter, McConkey said. Police attempted to revive Clarke, but witnesses said it was too late.

The NYPD’s 102nd Precinct and the Queens Homicide Squad eventually determined Concepcion and three others were involved, McConkey said in an affidavit.

The Bronx Warrant Squad also had tried to arrest Concepcion since March 31, 2023 for an unrelated robbery, McConkey said in a court affidavit. At least 14 attempts to arrest Concepcion were made between April 18 and Sept. 6, 2023, court records show.

The getaway driver was arrested in August 2023, authorities said.

The New York/New Jersey Fugitive Task Force had asked the U.S. Marshals Service in Vermont to help find Concepcion, who was believed to be in the state for part of the time he was on the run for the past 13 months, officials said.

Concepcion was believed to be bouncing between Burlington, Enosburgh and New York City while on the run. Phone records soon showed he had called from different numbers in Vermont.

By Friday the marshals service had determined Concepcion was in the Enosburgh area and it was just a matter of closing in.

Investigation found him at 328 Howard Road – and the home was soon encircled by a massive law enforcement presence of federal, state, county and local police. It included the Vermont State Police SWAT team, also known as its special operations unit, wardens from Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

The New York teen also has a link to an attempted homicide investigation in downtown Burlington in April 2023 and also a possible connection to a double homicide on Decatur Street in Burlington in November 2023, police said.

Burlington Police officers were at the Enosburgh home on the dead-end road and appeared to be seeking a search warrant on Friday night.

Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad was unavailable throughout the weekend and on Monday to respond to multiple interview requests from the media. It was unknown if BPD has made any progress on the two homicide-related cases from last year.

Also, during the Enosburgh investigation, a second New York City teen was arrested for false information to law enforcement authorities, records show.

Jayden Miller, 19, from the Bronx, N.Y. provided false information to Vermont State Police during the case, Trooper Jared Blair reported.

Miller was lodged at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans for lack of $200 bail.


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