A Buffalo man who prosecutors said repeatedly threatened to kill his estranged wife and their seven children has been convicted of weapon possession, despite his wife’s testimony that the gun was hers.
A State Supreme Court jury on Tuesday returned a guilty verdict against Eugene Lawrence Sr., 52, of Peach Street, after an eight-day trial before Justice Deborah Haendiges.
Lawrence was arrested Dec. 8, 2012, at his home after police responded to repeated threats to kill his family, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
Officers found a stolen, loaded .22 revolver, a holster and 60 rounds of ammunition in his safe.
While Lawrence was in custody and despite an order of protection, he contacted his wife at least 78 times over the next 13 months and eventually persuaded her to testify at his trial that the gun was hers, Sedita said.
Lawrence also made recorded telephone calls from the Erie County Holding Center to other prosecution witnesses, advising them to say “they don’t know nothing” if they were questioned, Sedita said.
The DA said Lawrence also was recorded making threats against female prosecutors during his calls.
“Those white witches ... I know you’re listening,” Lawrence said. “You’ve seen my record, and you know I won’t forget.”
Lawrence was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 1986 for fatally slitting the victim’s throat, Sedita said. He also has one other felony conviction and six other convictions for lesser crimes.
Sedita said he will look into the possibility of filing additional charges against Lawrence in connection with the intimidation and threats.
He praised the prosecution efforts of Assistant District Attorney Sara Ogden and Danielle Soluri and the investigation led by Buffalo Police Lt. Michael Quinn and Cheektowaga Police Sgt. Laurie Ucasz.
“It is troubling when witnesses, and in the case, prosecutors must contend with thugs who attempt to escape justice through witness tampering and intimidation,” he said.
“With neither fear nor hesitation, both prosecutors professionally executed their duties. Because of their efforts, as well as those of the police and the witnesses who bravely testified, a dangerous criminal has been brought to justice.”
Lawerence will be sentenced March 3.
Prosecutors will ask the judge to rule that Lawrence is a persistent felony offender, meaning that he could be sentenced to life in prison, Sedita said. If not, Lawrence faces a minimum prison term of 3½ years and a maximum of 15 years.