SIMMONS' FLIGHT AFTER DETAINING OF FRIEND RECOUNTED - The Buffalo News

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SIMMONS' FLIGHT AFTER DETAINING OF FRIEND RECOUNTED

Minutes after he witnessed the arrest of his alleged accomplice in the murders of two Buffalo priests in an unrelated matter at the Peace Bridge, Theodore Simmons took a cab to the airport for a trip to the West Coast, the cab driver told the jury at his murder trial today.

Richard Drayton, a part-time cab driver, testified that Simmons, 19, told him about 7 a.m. March 8, 1987, he had to go to San Diego "to rest for a while."

Simmons also said the other youth the cabbie had driven to the Peace Bridge that morning, identi fied by authorities as Milton Jones, would be angry at him for letting him get caught, the cabbie told the State Supreme Court jury. Simmons, 19, is charged with murdering the Rev. A. Joseph Bissonette, 55, and Monsignor David P. Herlihy, 74.

Father Bissonette was killed during a robbery late on Feb. 24, 1987, at the St. Bartholomew's Church rectory on Grider Street. The monsignor was slain during a late-night robbery March 7, 1987, at the St. Matthew's Church rectory on Wyoming Avenue.

Simmons was arrested in San Diego two days after the monsi gnor's slaying. Taken into custody at the Peace Bridge on a Family Court runaway order, Jones, 18, was convicted of both murders in January and awaits sentencing. Simmons' trial began nearly two weeks ago.

"He said his buddy was going to be angry with him because he told him he could get into Canada without identification," Drayton said in describing Simmons' com ments about Jones during the trip to the airport. Simmons and the other youth, whom Drayton didn't identify in court, had paid him $135 in cash for a trip to Toronto when they got into his cab at Fillmore Ave nue and East Utica Street about 5:30 a.m. that day, Drayton said. After the other youth, whom authorities identify as Jones, was detained at the Peace Bridge, Sim mons had him drive to the airport, the cabbie testified.

Under questioning from Frank J. Clark, first deputy Erie County district attorney, and defense attorney J. Glenn Davis, Drayton told the jury he kept $60 of the $135 of the proposed fare for the Toronto trip.

Also today, two associate chief Erie County medical examiners told the jury that both priests were stabbed in the heart and bludgeoned by their attackers and that both died of multiple stab wounds.

Dr. Sung-ook Baik told the jury that Father Bissonette was stabbed 10 times in the neck, chest and abdomen, including stab wounds of the heart, jugular vein, right lung and liver. Father Bissonette was also struck on the back of the head, Baik testified. "Each" of the knife wounds dis covered during the autopsy of Fa ther Bissonette the day after the slaying could have been fatal, Baik told the jury.

Dr. Fazlollah Loghmanee testi fied that Monsignor Herlihy was stabbed 17 times in the chest, in cluding three thrusts that pierced his heart and one that cut his ma jor artery. The elderly priest also had inju ries on the back of his head and neck and could only have lived "minutes" with the stab wounds he suffered, Loghmanee testified.

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