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IMPRISONED MAN CONVICTED OF EXECUTION-STYLE MURDER

Damion Saulters, already imprisoned for shooting two Buffalo men while stealing their car in March 1995, was convicted Friday evening of the execution-style murder of a Buffalo drug user and the wounding of a now-imprisoned local drug dealer the same month.

After about six hours of deliberations at Saulter's second trial this year for the fatal robbery, a State Supreme Court jury found him guilty of killing George "Bo Peet" Baxter, 48, and robbing Andre "Flip" Kelly in a Daisy Place home on March 19, 1995.

Saulters, who did not testify or present any alibi witnesses during the four-day trial before Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., sat motionless as the verdict was announced about 6:40 p.m. in the heavily guarded downtown courtroom.

Saulters didn't react even as the jury found him innocent of the attempted murder of Kelly, the intended target of the drug and money heist who also was shot but survived, only to be later convicted in another Buffalo drug underworld fatal shooting.

Already five years into a possible 25-year prison term at the Attica Correctional Facility for a violent Buffalo car theft nine days before the Baxter-Kelly shooting, Saulters, 26, was remanded pending his Dec. 5 sentencing.

Prosecutor Joseph M. Mordino said he will urge Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark to recommend Kloch impose the maximum-allowable sentence of 25 years to life for the murder of Baxter and the robbery of drugs and money from Kelly and make it consecutive to his current prison term.

Ralph C. Megna, Saulters' attorney, said the murder conviction will be appealed for what he called inconsistencies in the claims of a 21-year-old Amherst woman and two alleged coconspirators of Saulters.

The imprisoned Kelly, 25, Thursday refused to identify for the jury the man who shot him for drugs and money he was carrying, but the Amherst woman and two Buffalo men in their mid-20s all identified Saulters as the gunman who used a .22-caliber handgun never recovered by the authorities.

In closing arguments prosecutor Mordino told the jury Baxter became a murder victim simply because he was in "the wrong place at the wrong time" and was an eyewitness Saulters did not want talking to police because he incorrectly thought he killed Kelly.

Mordino told the jury the two men who testified against Saulters were actually his accomplices and now both face prison terms on lesser felony charges.

The trial before Kloch was Saulters' second in the case this year.

On Aug. 22 State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma had to declare a mistrial after a single juror held out for Saulters' acquittal after 14 hours of unsequestered jury deliberations over three days.

Kelly, arrested in Los Angeles two years ago, is now serving a five to 10 year prison term on his May 2000 guilty plea to a first-degree manslaughter charges in the fatal shooting of Tommy Jones, 37, of Sherman Street during a Shumway Street drug incident on June 18, 1998.

Saulters previously served brief terms in state youth facilities for mugging an elderly Buffalo woman in 1989 and for three gas station robberies and a Buffalo pistol-whipping in the 1980s, court officials said.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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