A skeptical judge today granted Curtis Alford Jr. a hearing on claims that he deserves a new trial in the shooting of block club leader Judson Price because Price insists another man shot him.
Erie County Judge Timothy J. Drury said he will conduct the hearing in about a week, after he completes two jury trials. He ordered state prison officials to keep Alford at the state's Wende Correctional Facility pending the hearing.
Alford, 19, is serving a prison term of 8 1/3 to 25 years in Coxsackie Correctional Facility near Albany. Drury sentenced him Oct. 26.
Drury told Paul V. Hurley, Alford's new lawyer, that Price, 63, "testified very clearly" at the trial that Jamar Kelley, 18, the man he now claims shot him, was "acting as a lookout" as he was shot at his front door on Winslow Avenue at about 12:15 a.m. Nov. 12, 1993.
Price's new claims -- that homicide prosecutor Joseph J. Marusak coerced him into testifying against Alford and that Kelley shot him -- "are not new," the judge said. Price said all that at the Jan. 12 sentencing of Kelley to a two- to six-year prison term on his guilty plea as the lookout during the shooting, the judge added.
Drury told Hurley that Price is confused. Alford used to play in a neighborhood basketball league run by Price, a retired Buffalo School guidance counselor and industrial arts teacher, and the victim talked to Alford at the Erie County Holding Center twice before Alford's trial.
Drury rejected Marusak's claim that Alford isn't legally entitled to a post-trial hearing but emphasised that Price "doesn't know who shot him" and is just "second-guessing" authorities.
Price's claim that Marusak "acted unjustly and unfairly" at the trial has developed because of the "attitude" Price got after talking to Alford at the local jail last year, the judge said.
Drury said he didn't let Price testify during the attempted-murder trial about things Alford told him at the local jail because it all would have involved inadmissible "self-serving" claims by Alford.