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Falls gunman takes plea deal in double shooting

LOCKPORT – As prospective jurors waited Monday to begin the trial of Shannon L. Lightfoot on charges of trying to kill two men, Lightfoot took a plea offer.

Lightfoot, 28, of Garden Avenue, Niagara Falls, admitted to second-degree assault, with Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III agreeing to a four-year limit on his sentence.

However, on Feb. 29 he pleaded guilty in another shooting case in which the maximum sentence also was four years. Those could be served consecutively, although at the time of the Feb. 29 plea, acting District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner recommended concurrent sentencing if Lightfoot took a plea in the later shooting case. Murphy made no commitment on that question, however.

Defense attorney Frank LoTempio III said, “Quite frankly, I think it will be concurrent. That’s what we’re going to argue for.”

Sentencing on Monday’s plea was set for May 25, while the earlier case is slated for May 2.

Monday’s plea came as Lightfoot was to go to trial on two counts of attempted murder in the shooting of two men, Christopher Carter and Antoine Hill, which occurred May 30 in the 1900 block of Niagara Street in the Falls. Police accused him of firing 27 rounds from what might have been an assault rifle.

One of the victims was quickly released after hospital treatment, while the other spent several days in Erie County Medical Center.

Lightfoot twice rejected a plea offer in the attempted murder case that would have limited his prison time to 15 years. He faced up to 40 years in prison if convicted as charged. Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann would not comment on why she offered a lesser plea.

LoTempio said, “I think there were some sensitive witnesses the DA had to deal with.” He wouldn’t say if that meant the victims were reluctant to testify against Lightfoot.

Lightfoot’s Feb. 29 plea was entered to a felony count of first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle for a drive-by shooting May 18 in the 2700 block of Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls, where a man was shot in the buttocks. Lightfoot also entered that plea on the morning of a scheduled trial. He had rejected the same offer less than three weeks before.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com