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Murder suspect changed story, retired detective says

Javon M. Ridgeway at first told detectives he shot two women, one of them fatally, by accident during a gunfight with the dead woman's brother.

But he later recanted that story and admitted killing Lanerra M. Streeter, his estranged girlfriend, after she told him she was pregnant and didn't know who the father was.

Retired Niagara Falls Detective Carl Berak testified Wednesday at an evidence-suppression hearing in Niagara County Court that Ridgeway, 26, of 16th Street, Niagara Falls, changed his story about 36 minutes after a three-hour interview ended Sept. 21 at Police Headquarters.

Berak said Ridgeway was taken to the booking area after the interview by Detective Frank Coney, at which Berak took notes. Berak said he and Coney were informed that Ridgeway wanted to talk to them again.

"He said he wanted to be straight up with us," Berak testified. He said Ridgeway told them he talked to Streeter, 25, while they smoked outside her Ninth Street home Sept. 9.

"He was trying to convince Lanerra with money not to go to court," Berak said. Ridgeway already was facing a domestic violence charge and the woman had a court order of protection against him.

"She said she thought she was pregnant. He asked by whom and she said she didn't know," Berak said. The couple returned inside.

"She was drinking and she was lying on the floor," Berak said. "He went over and he shot her twice in the head. He said he just lost it. Nichole [Nabors, Streeter's cousin] jumped up from the couch. He said he aimed the gun at Nichole Nabors and shot her, and then he left."

Nabors, 24, of Buffalo, was shot in the neck, stomach and leg, but survived.

Berak and Coney testified that Ridgeway never asked for an attorney during either of his interviews. However, the issue the defense may raise is that Ridgeway had an attorney, James J. Faso, on record as representing him because he had an open felony indictment for the domestic violence charges at the time of the murder arrest.

Assistant Public Defender Christopher A. Privateer said he may call other police officers to testify when the hearing resumes Feb. 6.

Berak said Ridgeway originally told him and Coney that he got into an argument with Lamont Streeter, the dead woman's brother, over Ridgeway's violating the order of protection by meeting Lanerra Streeter at a bar and coming to her house. Berak said Ridgeway told the officers that the argument between the two men escalated to the point that they went outside and pulled out guns to fight a duel.

Ridgeway first told detectives that Lamont Streeter ran back inside the house with Ridgeway shooting at him, and the women were shot accidentally. But Ridgeway later admitted Lamont Streeter wasn't even there, Berak said.

Ridgeway also is charged with the Sept. 2 shooting of Devon Wood, who was shot through the door of his Niagara Street home when Ridgeway allegedly went there to collect $6,500 he was purportedly owed for drugs. Wood, 23, was hit in the abdomen, but survived.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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