Thomas Slivienski was found guilty of second-degree murder and weapons possession charges on Friday in connection with the November 2018 shooting death of 17-year-old Johni Dunia in Cohoes.
After a week’s worth of witness testimony, attorneys made closing arguments Friday before jurors deliberated.
“On November 16, this defendant executed Johni Dunia,” said Albany County Assistant DA David Szalda of Slivienski.
As Szalda presented closing arguments, he aimed to convince jurors Slivienski, 23, had methodically planned to kill Dunia.
Szalda says Slivienski and Dunia, who was with four friends at the time, were texting back and forth about a drug deal. Prosecutors acknowledge Dunia and his group of friends planned to rob Slivienski of his marijuana, but they also claim Slivienski never intended to sell them any drugs when they met at the Cohoes bike path.
Instead, prosecutors say Slivienski plotted to shoot Dunia as retaliation for the group robbing him twice in the past.
“This theory doesn’t hold water at all. There’s no facts,” said Rebekah Sokol, Slivienski's defense attorney, who argued the investigation was flawed from the start and says law enforcement ignored the possibility one of Dunia’s friends was responsible.
“Police in this case focused on one suspect and one suspect alone,” Sokol said.
Prosecutors countered that with a combination of cell phone data, security camera images, and testing on bullet casings found at the scene. They argued those all pointed toward Slivienski. Defense lawyers called that evidence “circumstantial.”
His sentencing has been set for November 22 at 9 a.m.