The Erie County district attorney's office and an elite Buffalo police unit Monday joined the probe of Saturday's brutal beating of a convicted underworld figure.
Prosecutors and investigators from the district attorney's office, plus members of the select East Side task force of undercover police officers, joined the Homicide Bureau in sorting out possible leads in the attack on Garland Kyser.
District Attorney Kevin M. Dillon confirmed the escalation of the investigation. But he refused to link the probe to a months-long crackdown on East Side street violence or possible gang rivalries caused by the apparent fracturing of the so-called Donald "Sly" Green drug gang.
"The beating may be tied to a number of other incidents that have occurred recently," Dillon said. Buffalo police officials also declined to comment.
Law enforcement sources said dozens of street contacts have been questioned since Kyser, 32, of Wende Street, was found severely beaten in a yard at 143 Montana St. about noon Saturday.
Kyser was listed in serious condition Monday in Erie County Medical Center with multiple head and facial injuries from a beating with a two-by-four.
On Nov. 20, an Erie County Court jury convicted Kyser of bribing and intimidating James A. Wright, 43, the key witness against the jailed Green. Green, 33, was charged in the Oct. 25, 1988, fatal shooting of Larnell Cottrell, 28, allegedly in retaliation for the murder of Green's brother, Samuel.
Police also recovered a 9mm semiautomatic rifle and numerous shell casings nearby. Kyser had been free on bail pending sentencing Feb. 26. Prosecutors said Monday they expected him to be fit for sentencing as scheduled.
In a related development, prosecutors Monday cited Kyser's intimidation of Wright in criticizing complaints by Green that he was denied a fair trial because his attorneys didn't know Wright had a lucrative deal with authorities.
In a motion filed with Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury, the district attorney's office called Green's claims incredible and said Green's attorneys knew two months before their client's murder trial in November 1989 that Wright was being helped financially.
Green's lawyers also knew before prosecutors and law enforcement authorities that Kyser had intimidated Wright in June and July 1989, Drury was told.
Wright, now in the federal Witness Protection Program, told authorities in late August 1989 of Kyser's threats and related attacks on himself and his family. But he had told a private investigator working for Green of the situation 1 1/2 months earlier, prosecutors said.
Green's investigator never told authorities of the incidents, which didn't surface until Wright sought protection hours after his car was riddled with bullets on Aug. 29, 1989, prosecutors told the judge.
Green's lawyers, as a result of their client's "own trial strategy," didn't question Wright about his deal because it was a direct result of Kyser's actions, Joseph J. Marusak, a chief of Dillon's Homicide Bureau said.
Letting the jury hear why Wright was in protective custody -- which the jury didn't know because Green's attorney's didn't raise the issue and prosecutors were legally barred from raising it -- "would have hindered rather than helped the defense," Marusak said.
Paul J. Cambria, Green's chief lawyer, said prosecutors "are trying to cover up the fact that they withheld" information about Wright's deal and spending up to $200,000 he had been guaranteed.
Drury, who has been reviewing defense briefs for three weeks, is expected to rule in about two weeks on whether Green should get a new trial, court officials said.