Manhattan man convicted 25 years after executing driver on Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills

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Justice was finally served on Wednesday to a convicted bank robber from Manhattan for murdering a driver on the Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills more than 25 years ago.

Kevin Smith, 57, was convicted of second-degree murder for his role in the Feb. 8, 1990, shooting death of Frank Sestak, 45, who had been driving Smith and an accomplice, David Hammerstone of Pennsylvania.

Both Smith and Hammerstone robbed a bank in Manhattan a month after the murder and were caught soon after by federal agents, according to The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, PA. However, the Sestak murder would go unsolved until March 2015, when both men were indicted by a Queens County grand jury. Hammerstone pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter charges and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

During the trial, it was mentioned that the shooting may have been the result of a love triangle involving a woman Smith was dating and Sestak.

“Justice eluded the family of the victim for more than 25 years, but today a jury rendered its verdict and found [Smith] guilty of murder,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement on Nov. 23. “As a result, the defendant will likely be locked away for the rest of his life.”

According to trial testimony, the execution-style slaying took place on Feb. 8, 1990, as Sestak drove a Dodge station wagon along the westbound lanes of the Grand Central Parkway. Hammerstone sat in the front passenger seat, while Smith rode in the rear of the vehicle.

Law enforcement sources said Sestak pulled the station wagon over to the shoulder just after the 69th Road/Jewel Avenue exit on the Grand Central Parkway. Moments later, Smith pulled out a revolver and shot Sestak in the head. Smith then exited the vehicle, walked to the driver’s side door and fired more shots into Sestak. Prosecutors said Hammerstone also shot the victim.

Sestak sustained bullet wounds to his skull, brain, neck and lungs and died of his injuries.

Smith, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence in federal prison for an attempted bank robbery in New Paltz, NY, is scheduled to be sentenced for the Sestak murder on Jan. 28; he faces up to 25 years to life behind bars.

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