LOCKPORT – Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon ruled Wednesday that three witness identifications of Andre L. Jenkins as present at the Kingsmen motorcycle clubhouse the night of a double homicide can be used in Jenkins’ trial.
The court session also revealed that there are jailhouse informants who may be called to testify against Jenkins at his trial on an indictment charging him with the two slayings, as well as a hint there might have been an eyewitness to the killings.
North Tonawanda detectives testified at an evidentiary hearing last month that it took only two days after the Sept. 6 killings of two Kingsmen for Jenkins to become a suspect.
However, they weren’t asked how they latched onto Jenkins as the possible killer.
Jenkins, 36, of Deland, Fla., was arrested in November in Georgia and charged with the shooting deaths of Paul Maue, 38, of Buffalo, and Daniel “DJ” Szymanski, 31, of Getzville. Both were shot in the back of the head about 3 a.m. Sept. 6 as they sat in a car behind the Kingsmen clubhouse on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda.
Sheldon noted that none of the three, in picking Jenkins’ mugshot out of a group of six photos, had said he was the killer, only that they saw him at the clubhouse that night.
Sheldon then asked Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann if any of the three had said Jenkins was the killer.
“I’d prefer not to say specifically what they had to say,” Hoffmann replied. She declined comment on the matter after court.
Defense attorney Dominic Saraceno of the county Conflict Defender’s Office shrugged off the ruling that the identifications of Jenkins, all made from the same group of six black-and-white photos, can be used at trial. “It just identifies him as being on the porch (of the clubhouse) several hours before the crime,” he said.
Hoffmann disclosed in court that she needs to hold a hearing on jailhouse informants.
“We’ll likely need a full day, as there are a number of witnesses,” she told Sheldon.
The judge scheduled the hearing for Aug. 3, which was to have been the first day of jury selection. That was pushed back to Aug. 4.
Sheldon previously ruled admissible the tape of a controlled phone call in which a witness, under police guidance, tried to elicit incriminating comments from Jenkins a few days after the killings.
The judge told Hoffmann Wednesday, “I also said it’s not particularly incriminating, so I don’t know how you’re going to get it in.”
Previously, it was disclosed in court that testing failed to find Jenkins’ DNA in the car when the men were killed.
The testing also failed to tie him to the handgun, believed to be the murder weapon, which police found Sept. 23 in a field off Route 219 in southern Erie County, or to a glove found beside the gun.
Also Wednesday, Sheldon announced that she had granted Saraceno’s request to hire an investigator for the case at county expense. The judge limited the cost to $3,500.