A Niagara County jury was to begin deliberations today in the trial of the fifth man accused in the beating death of a Lancaster man in Niagara Falls last year.
David F. Kennerknecht, 23, of Petroleum Street, Town of Niagara, is charged with first-degree gang assault, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Three co-defendants pleaded guilty to that charge and another was convicted of the same count by a jury.
In his summation Tuesday before the jury of seven men and five women, First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist said Kennerknecht was one of three men who did most of the kicking of the victim, Nicholas A. Kwasniewski, 23, in front of 610 19th St., Niagara Falls, on June 4.
He identified the others as Charles J. Maggadino, 25, of Niagara Falls, and Paul R. Dawson, 20, of the Town of Niagara. Both pleaded guilty and testified against Kennerknecht. James A. Reed Jr., 18, of Niagara Falls, pleaded guilty to playing a smaller role in the assault. A medical examiner testified Kwasniewski was killed by at least 10 blows to the head.
Kwasniewski was beaten by men looking for Nicholas Payne of Grand Island, who allegedly beat up Shane W. Craft, 19, of Petroleum Street, March 31 after an alleged attempt to steal a bag of marijuana Craft wanted to sell him outside a Town of Niagara bar. Craft was convicted Jan. 26 of initiating the attack, even though he apparently realized the wrong man was being beaten.
Lundquist said Dawson and Amanda Farrell, Craft's girlfriend, testified that they saw Kennerknecht booting Kwasniewski in the head.
But defense attorney Joel L. Daniels blasted Dawson and Farrell as liars. He called Kennerknecht to the stand earlier Tuesday and had the defendant testify that he never entered the front yard and stood, by Daniels' reckoning, 28 feet away on the sidewalk during the attack.