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JURY PARTIALLY ACQUITS MAN OF SEX ABUSE

A Niagara Falls man accused of sexually abusing two girls was acquitted on two counts Friday, while a hung jury was declared on four other charges.

The jury of seven women and five men deliberated for about nine hours over two days before County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza accepted a partial verdict of not guilty in the case of Mashama J. Hill, 25, of 13th Street. The trial had lasted nine days.

Hill was acquitted of attempted first- and second-degree sodomy, crimes that allegedly occurred against an 11-year-old girl. Sperrazza declared a mistrial on four other counts: first- and second-degree sexual abuse, attempted first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.

The four charges comprise other allegations involving the 11-year-old and her 6-year-old cousin. The incidents allegedly occurred Jan. 28 in Niagara Falls.

The defense attorney, Assistant Public Defender Joseph L. Arbour, said he expects a new trial on the four remaining charges, noting that Hill had refused a plea bargain from Assistant District Attorney Lisa M. Wegryzn before the trial.

Sperrazza reduced Hill's bail from $10,000 to $1,000 in the wake of the acquittals.

Meanwhile, a jury in Judge Peter L. Broderick's courtroom deliberated briefly Friday before acquitting Joseph B. Medley of drug and weapons charges.

Medley, 26, of Ashland Avenue, Niagara Falls, had been charged with second- and third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Medley's co-defendant, Jason A. Washington, 31, of 10th Street, Niagara Falls, was acquitted on four counts Thursday by a jury in State Supreme Court, Niagara Falls.

The two men were indicted in the wake of gunplay on Sixth Street in Niagara Falls on Oct. 8, 1999, in which several shots were allegedly fired from a handgun. One bullet flew into a backyard on Fifth Street and struck a dog, which had to be destroyed.

Washington was charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, prohibited use of a firearm and cruelty to animals. A two-day trial before Court of Claims Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. ended with acquittal after four hours of deliberations, according to Assistant District Attorney Michael W. McNelis.

Medley was originally indicted on the same charges as Washington, plus the two drug counts, which stemmed from alleged cocaine possession with intent to sell.

However, Broderick dismissed the reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a firearm and animal cruelty counts after Assistant District Attorney Robert F. LaDuca Jr. rested his case.

Defense attorneys in the cases were Alan Goldstein, representing Medley, and Angelo Musitano, representing Washington.

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