After six days of deliberations and more than a week of testimony, Tyler Flach was convicted of second-degree murder in the knifing death of Oceanside teenager Khaseen Morris.
The verdict means the jury found Flach intentionally sought to kill the Oceanside High School senior in 2019.
Flach now faces 25 years to life in prison. Sentencing is set for Dec. 14.
“We got justice for Khaseen,” his sister, Keyanna, told reporters as the family left the courthouse shedding tears of joy.
According to reports, Flach shook his head a couple of times as the verdict was read, and didn't look back as officers led him out of the Nassau County courtroom in handcuffs.
Morris was the youngest of four siblings, an avid skateboarder, and a talented artist and musician who dreamed of studying photography, according to his family.
The main debate in the case was whether the deadly stabbing was premeditated. Edward Sapone, Flach’s attorney, told jurors the attack was unplanned since Flach threw a flurry of punches while holding the knife in his hand.
One of those punches “went awry,” Sapone said, with the weapon piercing Morris’ heart in what he described as “reckless” behavior.
It was all part of a prearranged fight in the Brower Avenue strip mall parking lot near a pizza place that is a popular hangout for students within walking distance of the high school.
Sapone argued Flach had thrown punches with the knife in his hand during other parts of the fight, but only inflicted a single stab wound to Morris in the 51-second melee. Sapone asked the jury during closing arguments last week to convict Flach of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree gang assault.
The prosecution contended Flach intentionally stabbed Morris during the altercation, saying Flach realized he had “cut someone” after their group got in Flach’s car after the brawl and headed back to Long Beach.
Prosecutor Ania Pulaski said in her closing argument that Flach stabbed Morris “at least two times, killing him in a matter of minutes.” Saying that, “the defendant was not trying to punch Khaseen with a knife. He was trying to cut him.”
Flach armed himself “from the outset,” Pulaski said, and tried to conceal his identity as he ran toward the parking lot “in full stride.” He stabbed Morris within 15 seconds, she added.
Evidence in the case included a video of the fight that authorities compiled from nearby store security cameras and cell phone video. The case attracted national attention when authorities initially said that 50 to 70 teens watched the fight and posted the content on social media instead of helping Morris.
Police later revised that number to about 20, with only a couple of them actually recording it.
Officers also said Morris suffered a single stab wound to his chest. But as the trial developed, prosecutors claimed Flach stabbed Morris three times.
"Whether it’s one stab to the chest, two stabs to the chest, or three stabs to the chest, it’s murder," Pulaski said during her closing arguments. "And it’s nothing else.”
Trial testimony showed Morris had five lacerations on his torso area, including the fatal stab wound. A former Nassau deputy medical examiner attributed two superficial wounds to life-saving efforts. But Pulaski told jurors the medical examiner had “misclassified” at least one of those wounds.
After emergency paramedic care, a surgical trauma team at Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital performed two operations on Morris to restart his heart. But he died just before midnight on Sept. 16, 2019.
"Khaseen Morris was a bright, funny and energetic young man who, at only 16, had his entire life in front him," said District Attorney Anne Donnelly. "Morris recently moved to the Oceanside area and had attended his new high school for only 10 days when Tyler Flach — enraged that Morris had walked a girl home from school — deliberately attacked Morris with a gang of seven other defendants.”