Bronx News
Apr 20, 2017

BRONX NEWS: Career criminal struggled to recall murder because he was stoned

At first, he didn’t remember pumping six bullets into a friend in a pot-fueled frenzy.

Then he did.

Jamel Burney — a man with 86 prior arrests — initially claimed a foggy memory about fatally shooting Michael Vermong on March 29 on Bainbridge Ave. near E. 205th St. in the Bronx.

“I don’t remember much. I blacked out,” Burney, 32, told Detective Raymond Rivera just hours after the eruption of gunfire, according to an interview transcript released Wednesday in Bronx Supreme Court. “Obviously I shot someone, but I don’t remember.”

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Then he added: “OK, I do remember.”

Burney went on to say he knew Vermong as “Yo,” and had been friends with him for about two years. Burney said during the struggle, a wounded Vermong taunted him when he ran out of bullets.

“I went there to confront him. He has been disrespecting me. They way he talks to me. I had the gun on me,” Burney said.

Burney was armed with a Smith & Wesson .38-caliber special that he claimed he found in Queens.

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“It had six bullets in it,” he told Rivera. “I went inside the lobby. I took the gun out and pointed it at him, told him, why are you going to disrespect me.

“He said, ‘What do you mean.’ I fired one shot. Then we started scuffling. I think I missed him twice.”

Burney described hitting Vermong twice with bullets as the hapless victim grabbed the gun, according to prosecutors.

Burney said he fired twice more before the gun ran out of bullets.

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“He said, ‘You are out of bullets d—head, ha ha ha,’” Burney recalled, according to prosecutors. “I pulled the trigger but nothing came out. I hit him with the gun in the head, twice. Then I ran.”

Burney fled to a subway station and ran out and ditched the gun under a car as cops closed in.

“I dropped the gun under the car and started running,” he said. “I did not point the gun at them. They tackled me a block away.”

Court records show that Burney later told Detective Michael Smith: “Are you a detective? I shot a man a couple of times. Detective said they needed me. Where are they?”

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Burney was indicted on four counts — murder in the second degree, manslaughter in the first degree, and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree.

Burney remains held without bail in a city jail.

Burney, who wore a drab grey jumpsuit to the arraignment, appeared solemn and didn’t say a word throughout the proceeding.

The Daily News previously reported that Burney had been arrested 86 times, dating back to 2004 when he was 19.

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On Wednesday, Burney pleaded not guilty to murder charges in Bronx Supreme Court. Prior to Burney’s plea, his lawyer Joel Peister pleaded with Judge George Villegas to not allow cameras in the courtroom. Villegas denied the request.

“It’s just the beginning of the case,” Peister told the News as he walked out of the courtroom. “It’s not as straightforward as it looks.”

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Career criminal struggled to recall murder because he was stoned

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