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TEEN DENIES COUNT IN SHOOTING OF WITNESS TO MURDER

Terrell Hale emphatically denies taking part in the shooting of the 20-year-old man who is supposedly the only eyewitness who claims that Hale's cousin murdered good Samaritan Georgia Woods, according to his attorney.

John R. Nuchereno said Hale, charged with attempted first-degree murder in the Dec. 3 shooting, insists "he was not involved, and he has no idea who did it."

Nuchereno spoke Friday shortly after he entered an innocent plea for Hale, 18, of Wende Street, to attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, attempted assault, assault, tampering with a witness and weapons charges before State Supreme Court Justice Mario J. Rossetti.

Prosecutor John Benson Carle pressed to have Hale, who was arrested shortly after the late-night shooting on Rawlins Street, remain jailed without bail "for trying to kill" a witness whose name authorities are not disclosing. Nuchereno told the judge he will file bail motions later.

As Hale was being taken back to Erie County Holding Center, Nuchereon said noted prosecutors had turned over to him documents that he said "tend to show he did not commit this crime."

Carle and Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark refused to comment on the evidence that led to Hale's arrest and his indictment, which carries a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life.

Both Clark and Nuchereno confirmed that initial police reports erroneously said Hale was the older brother of Sean Smith. They said Hale and Smith are first cousins.

In a case in which his 14-year-old cousin faces a maximum sentence of nine years to life if convicted of the Nov. 10 murder of Woods, 40, both Hale and his cousin's allegedly unarmed co-defendant and fellow murder suspect, Benjamin Sweetwine, 16, face possible prison terms of 25 years to life.

Clark said Mario Shepard, 20, whom Woods stopped to help as Smith and Sweetwine were allegedly robbing him at about 5 p.m. Nov. 10, was shot at three to five times and struck once in the right arm as he and a relative walked on Rawlins near Doat Street at about 10 p.m. Dec. 3.

Authorities have labeled the Dec. 3 shooting a retaliation attack and an attempt to murder Shepard, the only eyewitness to the fatal shooting of Woods.

Hale and Sweetwine, who allegedly took part in the robbery but wasn't present for the fatal shooting, are being prosecuted as adults. Smith and Sweetwine both remain jailed without bail.

Smith is accused of fatally shooting Woods, who was driving around on an errand for her mother, when she saw the robbery.

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