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Officer cites suspect's comments

A Niagara Falls police booking officer testified at a hearing Monday that murder suspect Darnell D. Carter made a couple of comments to him that the prosecution could use against Carter.

Officer Thomas Rogers, who said he was acquainted with Carter, told Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza that after detectives questioned the suspect on March 22, Carter was in a holding cell. He asked for his one phone call and commented, "Man, I'm done."

"I said, 'You think so?' and he said, 'Yeah, I'm done,' " Rogers testified.

The next day, while waiting in the police garage for a transfer to the Niagara County Jail, Carter saw the victim's vehicle parked there as evidence. "That's his car," Carter said.

When Rogers asked whose car it was, he said Carter answered, "The man that got shot on Friday."

Carter is charged with murder in the March 20 slaying of Robert R. Biggs, 39, of Maple Avenue, Niagara Falls, during a robbery attempt on Pierce Avenue in the Falls. Four or five assailants are believed to have been involved, but only Carter has been arrested.

A video from a surveillance camera at the nearby Hometown Market shows a man, believed to be Carter, with a scarf over his nose and mouth, Sperrazza said.

Defense attorneys had argued that there was no probable cause for Carter's arrest, but the judge said, "There's ample probable cause."

Sperrazza read aloud from a witness statement: "I then heard four to five gunshots that came from Darnell, who had the gun."

Assistant Public Defender Christopher A. Privateer said that when he asked for witness statements, the district attorney's office gave him pages entirely blacked out except for one sentence.

Prosecutor Brian D. Seaman said he doesn't want to identify the witnesses to the defense until the eve of trial, now set for Nov. 30. "Several of the witnesses have expressed to us that if their names get out, they fear reprisal, they fear harm," he said.

Detective Frank Coney testified that he and Detective Lt. William Thomson arrested Carter at gunpoint at about 12:15 p.m. March 22, ordering him out of a sport utility vehicle in an alley off 12th Street. They questioned him for 77 minutes at Police Headquarters, but Carter refused to sign a statement.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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