Suspect in imam slaying back in court, gets new attorney

Oscar Morel is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings.

Oscar Morel is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings. (8/18/16)

NEW YORK - A Brooklyn man accused in the slayings of an Islamic religious leader and his associate in Queens was back in court Thursday to get a new attorney.

Michael Schwed is the new homicide defense attorney appointed to represent suspect Oscar Morel.

The 35-year-old Morel, of Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood, is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings last Saturday. The Queens district attorney say Morel fired multiple rounds, including gunshots to the head of Imam Maulama Akonjee and his friend and associate, Thara Uddin.

Both men were walking home from an afternoon prayer service when they were allegedly ambushed by Morel.

The district attorney's office says a search of Morel's basement turned up a gun, and the bullets that killed the victims were fired from the same weapon.

Schwed says his client is not guilty, and that the case is currently in the hands of the grand jury. Morel is expected back in Queens Criminal Court Monday.

The families of the victims say the shooting was a hate crime. The district attorney's office says that while the motive remains unclear, they are investigating whether it was a hate crime.

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