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Jailhouse informant says Falls man confessed to shooting

LOCKPORT – A fellow inmate who spent time in the Niagara County Jail with attempted murder suspect Javon J. Ellison Sr. testified Thursday that Ellison told him he shot a man and tried to bribe him not to testify against him.

Nicholas J. Cimino III, 31, told a Niagara County Court jury that on Jan. 27, Ellison “asked me advice about his parole situation.” Both men were considered parole violators, and Cimino is in jail awaiting action on a Jan. 19 arrest for allegedly forcing his way into a home on Lindbergh Avenue in Niagara Falls and fighting with an elderly male resident.

During the jail conversation, Cimino said Ellison “said he was the shooter of Jermaine Lowe. He said his brother paid off the witness to sign an affidavit, but the problem was the girlfriend was still going to testify.”

Lowe, 24, was shot once in the abdomen near 11th Street and Ontario Avenue in Niagara Falls late on June 4. Lowe’s girlfriend, Monique Russell, an eyewitness, had told police, a grand jury and a prosecutor that she saw Ellison, 25, was the man in another car that flagged down the one she was driving, in which Lowe was a passenger. Lowe got out, had words with Ellison, who remained in his car, and was shot, Russell originally said.

But Tuesday on the witness stand, Russell denied knowing who the man in the other car was, and was declared a hostile witness, allowing Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann to read her contradictory statements into the record in front of the jury.

Ellison’s brother is Jermaine Ellison, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April to a drug felony. The alleged attempts by Javon Ellison to threaten and bribe witnesses are expected to be highlighted Friday with the playing of recordings of Javon Ellison’s phone calls from jail.

Cimino said that the day after his conversation with Javon Ellison, he passed a note to a court officer at Niagara Falls City Court, saying he had information about the Lowe shooting. He met the next day with Niagara Falls Detective Capt. William Thomson, who told him to contact Hoffmann. Cimino’s letter to offmann was introduced as evidence.

When Assistant District Attorney Heather A. Sloma asked Cimino, “Why are you here today?” Cimino answered, “Get these bad people off the street.”

Defense attorney Joseph J. Terranova quickly established that Cimino’s real motive was to try to get some breaks on his own case, in which he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted as charged. Cimino said the prosecution has not promised him anything.

Terranova asked, “The truth is, Nick Cimino is here to help Nick Cimino, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Cimino answered.

“You haven’t done anything to help society except cost us money to lock you up,” Terranova said. A few moments later, the defense attorney asked, “What you’re doing is being a snitch, right?”

“Yes, sir,” Cimino said.

Also Thursday, Dr. William Flynn, a trauma surgeon at Erie County Medical Center, testified that he operated on Lowe after the shooting. “There was a furrow through his liver,” Flynn said, as well as a colon wound “which would have killed him if I hadn’t fixed it.”