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3rd informant surfaces in murder case

Another jailhouse informant surfaced Thursday against Lockport murder suspect Ray T. Townsend, while new DNA test results appeared to confirm that the murder weapon wasn't handled by anyone other than members of Townsend's family.

In a brief Niagara County Court appearance, Assistant District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann told Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza that a third Niagara County Jail inmate wrote a letter to the district attorney's office alleging that Townsend made incriminating comments.

Hoffmann said the informant was transferred to a state prison the day the letter arrived.

She said First Assistant District Attorney Timothy R. Lundquist will drive to the prison in eastern New York on Monday to interview the inmate. If the information is deemed valuable, a pretrial hearing on its admissibility will have to be scheduled.

A Nov. 9 hearing before Sperrazza featured testimony from two other county jail inmates who said Townsend, 39, admitted to them that he killed Robert J. Camarra, 54, with a baseball bat March 19 in the victim's West Avenue home. Hoffmann said the latest informant's letter was sent after that hearing.

Meanwhile, Hoffmann said DNA tests by the laboratory at Erie County Central Police Services turned up a likely match between Townsend's children and DNA traces on the bat.

There also was unidentified DNA, and Lundquist was able to win a court order from Sperrazza on Oct. 31 directing the four children to give DNA samples for comparison testing. He said at the time that a statement from one of the children confirmed he had owned the bat.

Court-appointed defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou said he has hired his own DNA expert to review the results.

Townsend's alleged motive in the slaying was an affair between Camarra and Darlene Townsend, his estranged wife.

Meanwhile, Hoffmann said Darlene Townsend faces charges for allegedly slashing a man with whom she had started a relationship since the slaying.

A grand jury indicted Darlene Townsend, 37, of Waterman Street, this week on charges of second-degree assault, third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and seventh-degree cocaine possession, stemming from an Oct. 22 incident in the Pine Street home of the victim.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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