Bank robber who executed driver in Forest Hills 27 years ago finally pays for the crime

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A convicted bank robber who fatally shot an associate on the Grand Central Parkway in Forest Hills more than 27 years ago may now spend the rest of his life in prison.

Kevin Smith, 60, of Manhattan was convicted in November of 2016 on a second-degree murder charge for the Feb. 8, 1990 execution of Frank Sestak, 45, along the parkway’s shoulder near the 69th Road/Jewel Avenue exit.

Jurors heard testimony at Smith’s trial that he may have killed Sestak as the result of a love triangle involving an unidentified woman whom Smith was dating.

On the date of the murder, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said, Sestak was driving westbound on the parkway while Smith and a second suspect — David Hammerstone, a Pennsylvania resident — rode along as passengers. 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.

After pulling over on the right shoulder, law enforcement sources said, Smith — who was seated in the rear of the car — pulled out a handgun and fired a single shot to the back of Sestak’s head. Smith then exited the car, moved around to the driver’s side of the vehicle and fired several more shots into Sestak’s body. Hammerstone had also shot the victim before he and Smith fled the scene.

The Sestak murder would go unsolved until March 2015, when both men were indicted by a Queens County grand jury. Hammerstone pleaded guilty in October of 2016 to first-degree manslaughter charges and is now serving up to 12 years behind bars.

Smith is currently serving time in a federal penitentiary in New Paltz after being convicted of an attempted bank robbery charge. At sentencing on Sept. 14, Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak ordered Smith to serve 25 years to life in state prison for the Sestak murder.

“For more than 25 years, justice eluded the family of the victim, but now they can rest easy knowing that the cold-hearted killer of their loved one will likely spend the rest of his days locked behind bars,” Brown said in a statement on Sept. 15.


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