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Jail snitch ties Townsend to slaying

A jailhouse snitch, identified only as Witness Number 3, testified Thursday that a Lockport murder defendant admitted to killing a man with a baseball bat last year.

"He said he beat him and he deserved to die," the informant said of Raymond Townsend, who is accused of second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 54-year-old Robert J. Camarra March 19 in the victim's West Avenue home in Lockport.

Police have said the killing was a "crime of passion," after Townsend learned Camarra was having an affair with his ex-wife.

The hearing on Thursday in Niagara County Court was held to determine whether to allow the informant to testify during the trial.

County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza made no ruling following the hourlong court proceeding.

First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist has asked that the informant's name not be used because the man could face dangers in jail if his name is made public.

Townsend appeared nearly giddy, laughing at times as his attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, hammered the man with questions and accused him of "fishing for a deal."

Eoannou portrayed the witness, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and handcuffed as he testified, as a crack cocaine dealer who had lied about selling drugs, violated parole three times, had been using drugs since 1992 and possessed a gun illegally.

The witness agreed that he had been selling crack and had made "too many sales to remember" between 1998 and 2006.

Eoannou also questioned a letter the witness had submitted to the district attorney in December asking for his current felony charges to be reduced to misdemeanor charges in exchange for his testimony.

At first the witness said he didn't remember, but Eoannou pressed, asking why he couldn't remember the letter in December, but could remember a conversation with Townsend in November.

The man agreed he wrote a letter, but had not made any deals a condition of his testimony.

Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffman also told the judge "no promises were made."

The witness said he and Townsend had known each other before jail and went to school and college together. He said he also knew the Townsend family.

Townsend's brother, Tony, also has implicated his brother in the killing.

The witness told Sperrazza he had spoken with Townsend on five occasions and Townsend admitted to going to Camarra's house because Townsend's ex-wife was having an affair with Camarra.

"He said he hit Mr. Camarra with a bat. He said he beat him and he deserved to die. A month later he said he was ready to 'face the consequences,' whatever the consequences are," the informant said of Townsend.

Following the testimony, Eoannou asked for Townsend's bail to be reduced from $75,000 to $50,000, which he said his client's family could provide. He also questioned why a DNA report had still not been provided.

Hoffman said the laboratory had a problem with a statistical error and they should have the tests within the week.

Sperrazza said if the DNA tests were not made available by the end of next week, she would entertain the request to reduce bail.

A trial date has been scheduled for March 5.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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