Share this article

print logo

TWO CONVICTED IN '97 ROBBERY, STABBING OF TEEN

An Erie County Court jury Tuesday evening found Ernest Vann Jr. and Keyontay Ricks guilty of all charges in connection with a stabbing and robbery 13 months ago.

Judge Sheila A. DiTullio revoked bail on Vann, 23, of Durham Avenue and Ricks, 15, of Grey Street and ordered them held for sentencing May 20.

The two were accused of stabbing Mario Hellamns, 18, in the back and stealing $40 from him as he left a deli at Deerfield Avenue and Sussex Street on the evening of Feb. 11, 1997.

Vann and Ricks were found guilty of two counts of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree robbery. Ricks also was found guilty of a fourth-degree weapons possession charge.

Vann, who has a criminal record, faces a mandatory sentence of at least 10 to 25 years in prison.

Ricks, who was 14 when the robbery was committed, could receive a jail term of three to 10 years. He would be housed in a state youth prison until he turns 19.

The jury of nine men and three women began deliberations about 1 p.m. and returned the verdicts about 9 p.m.

Hellamns, now an Army private stationed in Virginia, testified that Ricks stabbed him in the back while Vann held a handgun to his head.

Neither Vann nor Ricks testified at the weeklong trial.

Hellamns, who admitted he only saw his attackers for a couple of seconds, said both fled after seeing a car coming down the street.

In closing arguments, defense attorneys Ronald M. Cinelli and Jon A. Nichols contended their clients were falsely arrested shortly after the attack because they were near the crime scene and were the only people police saw who vaguely resembled the men who committed the crime.

Prosecutor John Carle argued that Hellamns had no trouble identifying his attackers because they were only "inches" from him during the stabbing.

Court officials said that in 1993 another judge granted Vann youthful offender status and jailed him briefly for the July 8, 1992, shooting a heroin-addicted pregnant woman on Deerfield Avenue.

Vann's friends alerted police to arrest him after he shot the woman in the leg. She survived and gave birth about five months later, court officials said.

Court officials said that Vann's father, Ernest L. Vann, 39, a custodian at Veterans Hospital, committed suicide March 28, 1992, after being told that Buffalo homicide detectives had obtained an arrest warrant charging the elder Vann with second-degree murder in the Feb. 17, 1992, death of Patrice L. Mitchell. The body of Ms. Mitchell, 28, a Veterans Hospital clerk, was found in Vann's Dewey Avenue flat.

There are no comments - be the first to comment