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Man acquitted on rape charge

A Niagara County Court jury acquitted a man on charges of raping a woman Thursday, but convicted him of trying to bribe the woman not to testify against him.

After a three-day trial, the jury took about 90 minutes to find Garrien F. Tillman, 22, of South Avenue, Niagara Falls, not guilty of first-degree rape, but convicted him on two counts of bribing a witness and one count of tampering with a witness. Sentencing was set for Nov. 10 by Judge Peter L. Broderick Sr.

The incident, which the defense insisted was consensual, occurred in Niagara Falls Jan. 9, 2004. Tillman's aunt, Gloria V. Scott, 51, of 58th Street, still faces charges of telling the woman that if she didn't testify, Tillman would provide her with a new apartment and money for rent and furniture. The woman testified.

Tillman could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison for the bribe attempt. He faces another indictment accusing him of shooting a man in the legs June 20 in Niagara Falls.

In another shooting incident in Niagara Falls, David M. McKithen pleaded guilty to taking part in a home invasion that ended in the death of one of the burglars.

McKithen, 18, of Parkridge Avenue, Buffalo, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree burglary. Broderick set sentencing for Nov. 22.

Robert Smith II, 18, of Fillmore Avenue, admitted to the same charge Tuesday. He and McKithen joined Jamar J. Mack, 21, of Buffalo, in breaking into a home on Pierce Avenue in Niagara Falls on Nov. 29 to steal drugs. On their way out, they were confronted by two police officers.

Mack shot Officer Charles Fink in the shoulder. Officer Robert Gee returned fire and killed Mack.

In another case, Joshua R. Wynn, 22, of Sixth Street, Niagara Falls, admitted Friday he shot at a passing car on Highland Avenue in Niagara Falls on Nov. 14.

He pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree assault and was set for sentencing by Broderick Nov. 15. Several rounds from a .22-caliber revolver shattered the rear window of the car but did not harm the occupants.

Gary Swain, 55, of A Street, Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mischief in connection with a Jan. 4 break-in at Wee Two Bar and Grill, 3320 Royal Ave., Niagara Falls. Police said cash and liquor were stolen. Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza set sentencing for Nov. 3.

Bryant D. Searles, 41, of Seventh Street, Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of petit larceny for stealing about $1,500 from another man during a struggle in a car May 27 in Niagara Falls.

Prosecutors said Searles is awaiting sentencing for attempted second-degree burglary in connection with a July 22, 2004, burglary at another Seventh Street home.

Clair D. Vanderschaaf, 35, of Upper Mountain Road, Lewiston, pleaded guilty to a felony count of driving while intoxicated and was scheduled for sentencing by Broderick Nov. 13. He was arrested Feb. 2 in Lewiston.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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