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Shooting suspect rejects lawyer’s advice to plead guilty

LOCKPORT – Javon J. Ellison Sr. will go to trial Monday, charged with a Niagara Falls shooting, after rejecting his attorney’s advice to accept a plea offer.

Ellison, 25, has two previous felony convictions in the past seven years, and is risking a potential life sentence as a persistent felon if he is convicted. He’s charged with attempted murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and first-degree assault in connection with the shooting of Jermaine V. Lowe Sr., 24, of Niagara Avenue in the Falls.

Court-appointed defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova said Ellison was offered a chance to plead guilty to the weapons charge, with a 10-year limit on sentencing agreed to by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon.

“I urged my client to take the plea offer,” Terranova told Sheldon Friday. “He is not interested at this time.”

Terranova said that he warned Ellison about the possibility of life in prison, and added, “I indicated to him there’s a substantial risk of conviction.”

To compound the situation, Terranova felt he had to yield to Ellison’s demands that a court order be issued to bring Lowe from state prison to testify at the trial, even though the prosecution didn’t plan to call him to the stand. Lowe is serving a four-year sentence for two Falls burglaries.

“I explained to my client why calling that witness is going to be counterproductive,” Terranova said.

Ellison, of Hyde Park Boulevard in the Falls, is charged with shooting Lowe in the abdomen at 11th Street and Ontario Avenue on June 4. Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said in court that her evidence includes a 911 call by the woman who was with Lowe when he was shot, in which she identifies the shooter. The tape also captured her telling the same thing to two police officers who arrived on the scene while she was still on the phone with the dispatcher.

Also in the prosecution arsenal is a compact disc of recordings of seven phone calls Ellison made from the County Jail. “He is threatening witnesses, paying witnesses and trying to get people to do those things,” Hoffmann said.

Sheldon, who said she learned of that this week, cut off Ellison’s phone privileges, except for calls to Terranova. “Had I known, I would have cut off his phone privileges long ago,” the judge said. “The content of this disc is pretty formidable.”

To top things off, a jailhouse informant was brought to court Friday, ready to testify about incriminating comments Ellison allegedly made. A hearing on the admissibility of the inmate’s story was postponed until Monday morning, when jury selection is to begin.