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Bass player faces charge of murder

A longtime bass player with several area bands is accused of using one of his guitar strings to strangle a man.

Christopher M. Faieta, 44, of Niagara Falls, was arraigned Thursday in Niagara Falls City Court on a charge of second-degree murder. He is being held without bail in the Niagara County Jail.

Faieta is accused of killing former Buffalo resident Michael K. Banks, 19, last weekend in what police described as a drug-related dispute. Banks had been living in Niagara Falls.

City Police Detective Capt. Ernest Palmer said Faieta told police that at 6 a.m. Saturday he received a call from Banks, who asked for a ride to Faieta's 30th Street home. Faieta said Banks then supplied him with crack cocaine, which the two smoked. Faieta asked for more, Palmer said, but Banks refused because he said Faieta owed him money.

"According to Faieta, Banks pulled a handgun out and there was a struggle. Faieta said he then picked up an air gun and struck Banks in the head with the butt end of the rifle. Then he strangled him with a cord, a guitar string," Palmer said.

Faieta, who was arrested Wednesday, is believed to have dumped Banks' body off the Route 219 bridge into Cattaraugus Creek late Saturday or early Sunday.

Niagara Falls police, dive teams, State Police officers and Erie County sheriff's deputies Thursday conducted an unsuccessful search, which was suspended because of bad weather.

According to court papers, Faieta told two acquaintances, a husband and wife, that he first put the body in his bathtub and then wrapped it in a tarp, loaded it into his van and drove to Wilson, along Lake Ontario, but "couldn't find a good place to dump the body," so he drove to Cattaraugus Creek and pushed it through the rails of the bridge.

Police said Faieta related this account in the acquaintances' Wellsville hunting cabin on Sunday.

The couple reported the crime to police on Wednesday morning, Palmer said.

A short time later, officers with search warrants found blood in Faieta's living room and in his van. Police surrounded his parents' home on Joanne Circle in the Town of Niagara, and he was arrested without incident.

e-mail: nfischer@buffnews.com

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