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NIAGARA POLICE & COURTS

>Prosecution will rest in Drake murder trial

LOCKPORT -- The prosecution will rest its case today in the Robie J. Drake murder trial, State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. told the jury Monday.

However, closing arguments and jury deliberations are not expected until next Monday, Kloch said. Wednesday and Thursday will be occupied by the defense's case, and the judge will be unavailable Friday because of a personal scheduling conflict.

Monday's testimony was dominated by information about tests on the bodies of the teenage victims, Amy Smith and Steven Rosenthal, who were shot to death in a parked car in North Tonawanda on Dec. 5, 1981.

Drake, now 45, has admitted killing them but asserted he thought the car, a 1969 Chevrolet Nova, was empty and abandoned, a suitable target for rifle practice.

He was convicted of two counts of murder in 1982. However, a federal appeals court last year scrapped the conviction on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

Witnesses Monday included Dr. Lowell Levine, a forensic dentist who concluded a bite mark on Smith's chest was inflicted after she was dead, a report he made after the body was exhumed in 1982. The original autopsy concluded the bite mark was older, said defense attorney Andrew C. LoTempio.

Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh said the prosecution now is unlikely to take the jury on a nighttime field trip to the crime scene in a factory parking lot. LoTempio had opposed that, saying it looks far different now than it did in 1981.

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>Man charged in connection with child's injuries

LOCKPORT -- A Robinson Road man was charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child over the weekend following allegations that he had injured a child.

Stephen A. Andres, 26, was arraigned before Lockport Town Justice Leonard T. Tilney Jr. and remanded to Niagara County Jail on $10,000 bail.

State police said they charged Andres after an investigation found that the child was injured on several occasions and had a bruised eye and a cut on the back.

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>Guilty plea entered in beating, robbery

LOCKPORT -- The second of three defendants in the Dec. 8 beating and robbery of a man who had just withdrawn $40 from an automatic teller machine pleaded guilty Monday in Niagara County Court.

Christopher M. Howard, 22, of Robinson Road, admitted to a reduced charge of attempted second-degree robbery. He faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced May 20 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

Howard pointed the finger at his co-defendants Monday, saying that Shannon V. Hill told Zachary A. Smith to attack the victim, who was riding a bicycle away from the M&T Bank at Walnut and Pine streets.

"We were all pretty wasted, and we were coming back from a store to get more drinks," Howard said. "I pushed [the victim] and he fell, and Shannon came over and started kicking him."

Hill, 24, of Washburn Street, has pleaded guilty to the same charge as Howard Smith, 18, of Ashley Place, is still under indictment.

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>Drug sale defendant offers advice for young people

LOCKPORT -- Wilbert J. Henderson, of Niagara Falls, who blamed his 35-year criminal record on drugs, had a message for young people after being placed on five years' probation Monday in Niagara County Court.

"Stop while you're ahead. It's nothing to play with," Henderson told a reporter after Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza sentenced him for fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance.

Henderson, 51, of 18th Street, was arrested in a drug roundup in Niagara Falls on March 12, 2009. Besides probation, he also must perform 100 hours of community service.

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>Youth, 16, pleads guilty to three burglaries

LOCKPORT -- Adam E. Christy, 16, of Youngstown-Lockport Road, Porter, could be sentenced to as long as 11 years in state prison after pleading guilty in a burglary case Monday in Niagara County Court.

Christy admitted to third-degree burglary and attempted third-degree burglary and was scheduled for sentencing May 13 by Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza.

Christy was charged with breaking into Casey's Malt Shop in Ransomville in August and with entries at Knead the Dough in Ransomville and Ed's Country Store in Wilson on Dec. 3.

Co-defendants in the Dec. 3 cases -- Aaron B. Clark, 18, of Ransomville Road, Ransomville, and John R. Kalita, 20, of North Ridge Road, Cambria -- are awaiting sentencing for third-degree burglary.

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