Astoria man convicted of fatally shooting his friend during an argument three years ago

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An Astoria man has been convicted of murdering his friend, who was planning on moving to the area from Europe, in a local park three years ago, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

After just two hours of jury deliberations, Alexander Bonich, 52, was found guilty of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence. He is due to return to court for sentencing on June 14, where he faces 25 years to life in prison.

According to trial testimony, Bonich met William Klinger, 42, a historian from Rome, Italy, years ago during a trip to Croatia. The two maintained a friendship since then.

When Klinger had expressed to Bonich that he wanted to move to the United States, Bonich offered to help, telling Klinger that he found a job for him and selling him an apartment in Astoria for $85,000. However, this would prove to be a lie; there was no job waiting for Klinger and the apartment he’d bought was actually rented by Bonich’s elderly mother.

On Jan. 31, 2015, Bonich and Klinger were walking through Astoria Park when they got into an argument about the situation. Klinger began to walk away from Bonich, who ordered him to stop.

When Klinger ignored him, Bonich shot him in the back of the head. Klinger fell to the ground and Bonich shot him again.

“The defendant in this case spun a web of lies – claiming that the victim had set out to kill him and that shooting the man in the back was self-defense. The jury, however,  weighed all the evidence and found the defendant guilty as charged after just two hours of deliberations,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “The victim of this violent shooting had trusted the defendant and reached out to him for help in starting a new life in New York City. Sadly, the defendant betrayed that trust and brutally shot and killed the man. The defendant will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars as punishment for this senseless killing.”

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