A Buffalo man whose nickname is "Murder" was convicted Thursday in the fatal shooting of a man who fought off two robbers nearly six years ago.
A State Supreme Court jury found Corey "Murder" Cox, 21, guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the death of Robert B. Kowalewski, 27, who was fatally shot at about 1:40 a.m on July 25, 2004, in front of the Ozone Bar in the 2200 block of Genesee Street.
Cox also was convicted on two counts of attempted robbery.
Justice Shirley Troutman presided over a four-day trial at which Cox did not testify.
Cox, who would have been released from prison last fall for a 2005 Buffalo robbery conviction had he not been indicted for the murder, was prosecuted as a juvenile offender because he was only 15 when he shot Kowalewski, a married father of three.
He faces a maximum prison term of 15 years to life as a juvenile when he is sentenced April 15.
In closing arguments, Cox's attorney, Anthony J. Lana, urged the jury to convict his client on the charge of first-degree manslaughter for what the attorney called his young client's "tragic, tragic decision" to shoot the bigger Kowalewski, who fought off Cox and a cohort during the attempted stickup.
"Hold him accountable for his actions, find him guilty of first-degree manslaughter," Lana argued, contending that in shooting his victim in the thigh, Cox was really just trying to give himself time to flee. He argued that Cox never expected Kowalewski to die. The veteran defense attorney also denounced four prosecution witnesses -- three men, including one already in prison, and a woman, all with criminal records -- for allegedly falsely claiming that Cox had bragged about the killing days after the incident.
Lana told the jury that those prosecution witnesses got "free passes" from prosecutors for their own offenses, including a reduced prison term for the incarcerated witness, for giving what he called often-conflicting testimony about what Cox told them and when Cox made those statements.
Prosecutor Lawrence M. Schwegler scoffed at the defense attorney's assertions, stressing that Kowalewski "died an ugly death," bleeding to death after he had "shrugged off" the robbery attempt and forced Cox and his accomplice to flee before Cox shot him.
Schwegler and co-prosecutor Peter C. Parisi told the jury Kowalewski had been targeted for the robbery and Cox deliberately shot him because he had resisted the robbery attempt.
Schwegler and Parisi said an investigation continues for the second suspect who fought with Kowalewski during the aborted stickup but fled before the shooting.