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As Niagara Falls / Tales of the strange but true

>Whatever it takes

David F. Kennerknecht's acquittal on gang assault charges in the beating death of Nicholas A. Kwasniewski may have had something to do with the closing argument offered by his attorney, Joel L. Daniels. The veteran Buffalo barrister's strategy was one that his client couldn't have enjoyed too much: He portrayed Kennerknecht as too dumb and too much of a wimp to have committed the crime.

Daniels told the jury that Kennerknecht weighs 130 pounds and was a special-education student.

"Not the sharpest tool in the box," Daniels said. "If you're looking for backup or muscle, is that who you're going to call on, all 130 pounds of him, special education?"

He said the orchestrator of the attack, Shane W. Craft, was Kennerknecht's best friend, but he went to pick up three other men for the assault. "He had to pick up the A Team. He wasn't going to go with this guy," Daniels told the jury. He continued, "This is first-degree stupidity, finding himself with these characters."

Not very pleasant for Kennerknecht to listen to, perhaps, but the good news for him was that he walked out of the courtroom a free man, while the other four defendants are going to prison for 15 to 25 years. They can tell their fellow inmates how tough they are.


>Horse and buggy laws

Lockport Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano is making an attempt to modernize the century-old language of the City Code's chapter on streets and sidewalks, removing antique references.

The chapter includes a prohibition against dragging a log down the middle of Main Street, sets a speed limit for horses and makes assorted references to oxen and other farm animals.

Ottaviano said when other attorneys call and ask for pages of the code, "I'm always embarrassed when I have to fax them a page that has to do with oxen and horses. They usually get a kick out of it and harass me for being in horse country."


>Everyone's a critic

Lockport Alderman Patrick W. Schrader remarked on a recent show at the Palace Theater.

"There were two good bands at the Palace Saturday night," Schrader said.

Council President John Lombardi III, leader of the CRS Band, knew why that happened. "I wasn't there," he explained.

Meanwhile, Alderman Joseph C. Kibler was exhorting the audience at the recent Council meeting to attend a speech by Alderwoman Flora M. McKenzie on Black History Month. "She said if there's a good crowd, she's going to talk about 10 minutes," Kibler said. "If there's not a good crowd, she's going to talk about half an hour, so try to show up."


>Stating the obvious

The foibles of criminals are always good for a few laughs around Niagara County Court.

Assistant District Attorney Charles F. Pitarresi offered the tale of Harrison Mozell, 24, of Niagara Falls, who was arrested for driving while intoxicated in a stolen car. Mozell pleaded guilty Feb. 2 to fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced April 6.

When a state trooper pulled Mozell over in the Town of Niagara Jan. 14, 2005, it wasn't hard to determine the car had been stolen. It had a broken steering column with a screwdriver stuck in it to provide some control.

According to Pitarresi, when Mozell was told to turn the car off, he said, "I can't. There are no keys."

With contributions from Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau.

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