Mark T. Dovey was shot and left paralyzed because his chief attacker had trouble telling him in English to give up his money, a friend of the three indicted suspects said after their arraignments in State Supreme Court today.
Steven Bundy, 18, said the Puerto Rican-born Francisco Franco shot Dovey once in the back July 12 only because Franco's own friends started laughing at him for his inability to correctly demand money from the victim.
Franco, Angel Escalera and James Dorman pleaded innocent and were ordered by a judge to remain jailed without bail on their attempted murder indictment.
Bundy, who came to court today, said afterward that the three defendants asked him to go out with them the night of the shooting looking for money.
"I didn't go, and I'm glad I didn't," Bundy said.
Bundy said he has spoken to all three since their July 20 arrests.
He said: "They all feel bad about" what happened to Dovey. But he said they all insist "it wasn't premeditated at all."
The three were indicted Friday by an Erie County grand jury on attempted murder, assault, robbery and weapons charges for the shooting of Dovey, 21, as he and a 19-year-old girl sat on the stage of the Shakespeare in the Park show near the Rose Garden about 2 a.m. July 12.
Prosecutors Brian Clinton Mahoney and Lynn M. Wessel told acting State Supreme Court Justice John P. Lane that authorities have very strong evidence against all three suspects.
Ms. Wessel and Mahoney told the judge Buffalo police learned that the three suspects drove around Buffalo looking for someone to rob before they happened on Dovey and the girl at the park.
Lane ordered all three held without bail.