The DNA of murder defendant Tyrome L. Elder was not present in the victim's car, attorneys in the case confirmed after a pretrial conference Thursday.
The session indicated there might have been a romantic angle to the killing of Jacobi L. Lovett of Buffalo, which had previously been described as resulting from a robbery attempt.
As he was being led out of the courtroom of Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III, Elder said to a reporter, "Make sure you mention I wasn't on that DNA."
"My guy was completely excluded," defense attorney Yvonne Vertlieb said, adding that Elder's DNA was not found in the car in which the victim was shot, nor on a cell phone found near the car after police recovered the auto a few blocks from the shooting scene.
Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann confirmed that results of a comparison of Elder's DNA with some found in the car were negative.
Elder, 24, of Weston Avenue, Niagara Falls, is charged with second-degree murder, as is co-defendant Earl McCoy, 29, of Rochester.
They are charged as accomplices. Prosecutors and police haven't said who they think pulled the trigger.
Lovett, 36, of Stanislaus Street, Buffalo, was shot in the leg as he was sitting in a Jaguar parked on Niagara Avenue in Niagara Falls at about 1 a.m. Nov. 7, 2009. Police believe he was shot during a robbery attempt; they found $16 on the sidewalk.
Lovett ran from the car after being shot, but the bullet had severed his femoral artery, and he collapsed and died from loss of blood outside a convenience store a few blocks away.
The Jaguar was moved to Cleveland Avenue, where police found it and the phone, which was identified as McCoy's.
Murphy had scheduled Elder and McCoy for separate trials, but Hoffmann said she would prefer to try them together.
Elder's trial, which was supposed to start Monday, has been postponed indefinitely, and McCoy's Feb. 7 trial date also is in doubt.
Vertlieb strongly supports separate trials and spent most of Thursday's court appearance trying to edit McCoy's written statement to police to delete any references to Elder that she thought might be prejudicial.
Although McCoy's attorney, John R. Parrinello, wasn't present, Vertlieb said the edits she wants to make would be things Parrinello would want the jury to hear.
"The statements I want redacted would be statements he'd use to point fingers at my client, just as I'd try to point fingers at his client," she said, explaining why she thinks separate trials are a must.
Vertlieb said McCoy's statement to police asserted that Elder was angry with a woman named Dominique, who also had a connection to Lovett and was in Lovett's car a short time before the attack.
Murphy decided to hold the matter over until Tuesday, when Parrinello will be available to join in the debate.
The judge said if he does decide the defendants can be tried together, the trial wouldn't happen before March and could come as late as May.