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POLICE & COURTS - Final

Police identify man killed in vacant lot Wednesday

Buffalo police have released the identity of an 18-year-old man who was gunned down Wednesday night in a vacant lot on Rickert Avenue.

Derek Rogers, of Titus Avenue, was pronounced dead in Erie County Medical Center.

Lt. Kenneth Bienko, commander of the Homicide Squad, said neighbors told police they heard four or five gunshots and people yelling to call an ambulance just after 8 p.m.

Patrol officers found Rogers lying in a vacant lot on Rickert. An ambulance transported him to the medical center, where he was later pronounced dead.

Detectives canvassed the neighborhood, but no witnesses have come forward. Police said they suspect the shooting was drug-related.

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Arrest made in stabbing of man on Busti Avenue

Central District officers have charged a 22-year-old man with second-degree assault and weapons possession after another man was stabbed in the right side of the face early this morning on Busti Avenue.

Officers Anthony LaPiana and Joseph Gramaglia arrested Randy M. Newman following the attack on Busti, one or two doors from Newman's home.

Willie Putman was taken to Erie County Medical Center for treatment of a 3-inch facial laceration. He still was being treated in the emergency room shortly before noon.

The officers recovered a steak knife believed to have been used in the attack, which occurred shortly before 12:30 a.m.

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Police pursuing leads in slaying of woman, 29

Tight-lipped Buffalo detectives say they have some promising leads and an apparent motive, as they continue to hunt for the killer of a woman whose body was found Wednesday morning on a picnic bench in Masten Park.

The body of Madelyn Rodriguez, 29, of Eaton Street, was found that morning by a person exercising in the park, near Masten Avenue and Best Street. She had been shot to death.

"We have a motive," Chief Anthony J. Barba said today. "It was not random. Somebody wanted her dead in retaliation for something."

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Two accused of possessing heroin in 10th St. area

Two Buffalo men were charged with heroin possession late Thursday afternoon after a report of drug sales in the 10th Street area, according to reports.

Central District Officers Mike Castello, Frank Gizzo and John Garcia said they found powdered heroin marked with the label "MVP" in the possession of Miguel Torres, 30, of Johnson Park, and William Vega, 26, of 10th Street.

Vega, who officers said had 10 bags of heroin, was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance. Torres had three bags, police said.

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2 charged in purse theft, use of credit cards

Two men who allegedly stole a Grand Island woman's purse and then went on a spending spree with her credit cards were arrested this week, Erie County Sheriff's Department officials reported.

Robert Lucas, 22, of the Town of Tonawanda, was arrested near his home Thursday on charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. John M. Macchia, 18, of Orchard Park, had turned himself in to sheriff's detectives Wednesday. He was charged with grand larceny.

Police said the two were involved in the theft of a woman's purse from the
Noco gas station on Grand Island Boulevard at about 2:30 p.m. Sept. 12.

The men fled. Within 15 minutes,

Lucas was videotaped using the victim's credit card at a Noco gas station on Bailey Avenue in South Buffalo, police said.

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Man's charge dismissed in beating of informant

LOCKPORT -- After a three-day trial, Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza on Thursday dismissed the charge against a Buffalo man accused of taking part in the beating of a drug informant in North Tonawanda.

After the prosecution rested its case, Sperrazza granted defense attorney
Julian Johnson's motion to dismiss the charge of first-degree gang assault against Terrence S. McCloud, 31, of Person Street, Buffalo.

The victim, who suffered a broken arm and other injuries in the attack in his North Tonawanda apartment Nov. 19, testified he didn't see McCloud hit him.

A co-defendant who has pleaded guilty, Leslie Tatum, 32, of Hagen Avenue, Buffalo, did identify McCloud as an assailant, but under New York law, uncorroborated accomplice testimony is insufficient for a conviction.

Tatum is awaiting sentencing, as is another man who pleaded guilty in the case, Reginald O. Williams, 30, of Minnesota Avenue, Buffalo.

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Guilty plea entered in sale of cocaine

LOCKPORT -- Jerry G. Wood, 29, of Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo, pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court on Thursday to selling cocaine in North Tonawanda on May 17.

Wood is to be sentenced on Dec. 20 for fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

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