Charquan Edwards Re-sentenced to 20 Years in Syracuse Poker Robbery Case

A New York State man who was found guilty of attempted murder in an unusual retrial featuring testimony from several deceased participants in a private poker game has received the same sentence meted out in his initial trial. Charquan Edwards, now 29, was again sentenced to 20 years to life on Monday in the attempted murder of another player during a poker robbery attempt.

Poker-game robber and attempted murderer Charquan Edwards received the same 20-years-to-life term he was originally sentenced to in 2015. (Image:

Edwards received his initial 20-to-life sentence in late 2015. However, an appellate court agreed that he was denied due process due to errors by both his state-appointed defense attorney and the original presiding judge.

In the retrial, he was found guilty on multiple charges that carried the 20-to-life sentence, including first-degree attempted murder, but he will serve those sentences concurrently. Edwards also received credit for the time already served since his original conviction.

Poker robbery victim and other witnesses died following original trial

Edwards was 23 when he tried to recoup his losses by gun barrel following a night of poker gone bad in 2015. Twice, having busted, he left the private game and returned with more money. After busting a third time, he attempted to rob the game.

While the exact details remain in dispute, a scuffle ensued as Edwards attempted to grab about $9,000 sitting on the poker table as the game continued in the late-night hours. Edwards shot 83-year-old George Smith, another of the game’s players, then fled the scene. His flight was captured on a surveillance camera and he was soon apprehended.

Smith died in 2020 at age 89 of unrelated causes. In an unusual twist, three of the game’s other players — all of whom had testified against Edwards — also died between 2015 and the 2021 retrial. Only one original witness to the shooting is still alive, but he was hospitalized and unable to testify at the retrial. The circumstances led to the unusual occurrence of all the witnesses’ and Smith’s original testimony being resubmitted during the retrial, as allowed under New York law.

Sentence is minimum permissible in New York

Edwards’ reinstated 20-to-life sentence is the mandatory minimum called for under New York’s sentencing law, but had Smith died, the murder would have been a Class 1-A felony and Edwards could have faced life without parole. Smith nearly died from the chest wound he received during the brief scuffle that ensued after Edwards originally fired two other shots into the ceiling in an attempt to frighten the game’s mostly older participants.

With poker in New York State being played largely at private clubs and other underground games, shootings have become an occasional and tragic occurrence. In 2019, four people (including the initial shooter), died when a disgruntled poker player opened fire at the unlicensed Triple A Aces club in Brooklyn. And in 2020, another player was killed during an armed robbery of another underground club, also in Brooklyn.

Written by
Haley Hintze
Contributing writer Haley Hintze is a 20-year veteran of the poker world, a Women in Poker Hall of Fame finalist, and two-time Global Poker Awards finalist.

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