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Tabb pleads not guilty in man's slaying outside bar

Michael A. Tabb pleaded not guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court to the fatal shooting of a man outside the Highland Bar and Grill on Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls on Sept. 30.

"It's a violent, senseless crime," District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III said in court.

Tabb, 23, of Ashland Avenue, Niagara Falls, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

He is accused of shooting two-time convicted felon Leslie J. Haslip, 41, in the back during a fight outside the bar at 3:20 a.m. Police said Haslip was involved in a fistfight with another man after that man had been in an altercation with a woman, and Haslip took up her cause. Tabb allegedly went to his car and returned with a gun and shot Haslip, who died about an hour later in Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston.

Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr. set bail Thursday at $100,000 cash or $200,000 property but said the amount was "academic" because Tabb is an alleged parole violator. Tabb is being held in the County Jail. He was on parole from a drug conviction.

Murphy said four witnesses were shown photo arrays to try to identify Tabb as the shooter, and hearings will have to be held on that procedure.

When he was apprehended Oct. 1, Tabb told police he was at the club but had nothing to do with the shooting, authorities said.

"He had nothing to do with it," defense attorney James J. Faso said Thursday.

Tabb was hiding in a bedroom of a home on Seventh Street when he was arrested.

Haslip had served prison time for firing a shotgun into a group of people at a Niagara Falls bus stop in 1992, wounding two of them, and for slashing a man in the neck with a knife in 2000.


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