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2 ex-cons acquitted in home invasion

Two Buffalo ex-cons, one of whom has been jailed for the past year, were acquitted Thursday of staging a violent East Side home invasion last year.

Kashika Speed, 35, of Hempstead Avenue, and Jeffrey Early, 25, of Ivy Street, were acquitted of burglary and robbery charges following about four hours of deliberations after a three-day trial before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.

Michael L. D'Amico, attorney for Early, who has been jailed in the case for the past 12 months, and Robert N. Convissar, attorney for Speed, who has been jailed since late February, said they will be moving within the next few days to get both released from custody.

Early and Speed were sent back to the Erie County Holding Center following the verdict because they are both being held on parole violations that D'Amico and Convissar said apply only to their arrests for the home invasion incident for which they were acquitted.

Early's parole violation was linked to an assault conviction and Speed's was for a drug conviction.

The defense attorneys said they believed they won the acquittals because of the lack of solid identifications of the two armed men who broke into a Peace Street woman's home near Doat Street and terrorized her and her two children at about 8 p.m. July 17, 2007.

Neither defendant testified or presented any witnesses at the trial.

Wednesday, the woman, whose husband was not at home at the time of the break-in, told the jury that Speed's eyes and voice resemble those of the lone masked bandit. The woman's 13-year-old son told the jury Early "may be" the unmasked bandit but he could not say so conclusively.

During deliberations, the jury asked D'Amico to re-explain for them the legal term "reasonable doubt." The judge told the jury the legal burden of proof was in the hands of prosecutors. He urged the jurors not to abandon any "honest doubt" they might harbor and he stressed that they were not to base their unanimous verdict on "baseless speculation."

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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