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WOMAN'S DEATH PROBED AT METRO RAIL STATION

Buffalo Homicide Bureau detectives today were investigating the circumstance of the death of a wheelchair-bound woman at Metro Rail's Summer-Best Station.

Elizabeth Pestka, 52, of the 300 block of Summer Street, was spotted unconscious on the northbound tracks by a train driver on the southbound tracks at about 12:39 a.m. today, police said.

Pestka was taken to Buffalo General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 1:24 a.m. Her motorized wheelchair was on the tracks beside her, police said.

"At this point we're investigating it as a possible accident, but the investigation is continuing," said Homicide Detective Ray Masecchia.

Detective Sgt. Anthony Costantino said an autopsy determined the woman suffered extensive head trauma, which may have been caused when she toppled from the station platform onto the tracks.

Detective Patrick Judge also was assisting in the investigation.

Man accused of slashing
estranged wife with machete

The estranged husband of an Antwerp Street woman was arrested today on Bailey Avenue after he slashed her in the face with a machete, authorities said.

Robert A. Moore, 43, attacked Dawn Moore with such force that the machete broke, according to police, who said she required a number of stitches to close the facial wound.

Ferry-Fillmore District Officers Robert A. Macey and Arthur Collins charged Moore, of the first block of Humber Avenue, with assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

The victim was taken to Erie County Medical Center.

Gas station clerk threatened
with gun, robbed in Gowanda

Gowanda police today were investigating an armed robbery at a gasoline station on the first block of Buffalo Street, authorities said.

The robber entered the Sunoco Station at 3:37 a.m. and threatened the clerk with a gun before stealing an undetermined amount of cash, according to police.

Woman is charged after gun
is found in bag at airport

A 66-year-old Ontario woman, stopped at Buffalo Niagara International Airport over the weekend with a handgun in her carry-on bag, will have to appear in Cheektowaga Town Court to answer gun charges.

The woman -- identified as Catherine Walter of Thorold, Ont. -- was stopped at about 6 a.m. Sunday when she passed through the airport's security checkpoint. Security found an unloaded .38-caliber gun in her carry-on luggage, said C. Douglas Hartmayer, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority's public affairs director.

"When she was confronted she denied knowing it was in there," Hartmayer said.

The woman said it was her husband's gun and his bag, which she hurriedly packed for her trip, Hartmayer said.

Walter was questioned by law enforcement, including FBI officials, before being charged with possession of a weapon. She was released on $500 bail and given a ticket to appear later in court.

Man wounded by gunshot
while walking on Bailey Ave.

A Buffalo man was shot from behind while walking to a Bailey Avenue store Monday night.

Samuel Miller, 18, of 15th Street was taken to Erie County Medical Center after the bullet struck him in the head, said Inspector David Andrews. Miller was treated in the emergency room and later released.

Miller was walking on Bailey, near Stockbridge Avenue, about 7:40 p.m. Monday, when he was shot, Andrews said.

Murder trial opens in slaying
of reputed drug dealer

Jury selection at John Ames' first- and second-degree murder trial in the fatal throat-slashing of a reputed Buffalo drug dealer began Monday before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia.

Ames, jailed since his arrest in Los Angeles 14 months ago on court warrant in a drunken driving case, faces mandatory life in prison without parole if convicted of the first-degree murder charges in the Feb. 27, 2000, slaying of Joseph Battaglia.

Battaglia, 61, was found dead in his home by his son. Ames, a former Ramona Street resident, is being held without bail. Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark did not seek the death penalty.

Man gets 5 years in prison
in auction house robbery

LOCKPORT -- Edward F. Lamica, one of three men who robbed an auction house Dec. 5, was sentenced to five years in prison in Niagara County Court on Monday.

Lamica, 20, of Ruhlman Road, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery before Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Lamica and two others were armed with a 9mm handgun when they entered Goldsmith's Grand Auction Gallery and stole $90 and 11 handguns.

Dennis W. Zimmerman Jr., 23, of Chicago, will be sentenced Oct. 19 for first-degree robbery. Jason I. Jones, 18, of Ontario Street, was granted youthful-offender status last week.

Man accused of endangering
welfare of child, harassment

FREEDOM -- Arthur J. Baker, 36, was arrested on several charges connected to a domestic dispute, Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies said.

Deputies said Baker was arrested at about 8:15 p.m. Sunday and charged with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree harassment. He is scheduled to appear in Freedom Town Court at a later date.

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