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Murder case attorneys fighting over evidence
Judge to rule on whether to allow use of sneakers

With jury selection scheduled to begin Monday, attorneys in the Darnell D. Carter murder case wrangled Friday in Niagara County Court over whether a pair of Carter's sneakers should be admissible as evidence.

Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza said she will tell the attorneys her decision in the matter Monday. She already has disallowed a hooded sweatshirt, a pair of pants and a bandanna that Carter allegedly was seen wearing in a crime scene video, because they were not specified in a search warrant Niagara Falls police executed at Carter's 12th Street home.

The sneakers were in the same plastic garbage bag with the other clothing, but prosecutors argued they should be treated differently from the sweatshirt, pants and scarf.

At first, police believed stains on the sneakers were blood, but according to a comment Sperrazza made from the bench, the test turned out negative.

Carter, 23, allegedly followed a trail of blood left behind by shooting victim Robert R. Biggs, 39, who collapsed in a backyard after being shot in a robbery March 20, 2009, outside the Hometown Market on Pierce Avenue.

At least four men took part in the robbery, which was captured on the market's surveillance cameras, but Carter is the only person who has been charged. A second possible defendant has been implicated by an informant but not charged so far.

In other Niagara Falls cases:

*A Niagara Falls man who allegedly shot a man in the city Sept. 1 was held on $30,000 bail set by Sperrazza at his arraignment Friday.

Desmond L. Bitting, 18, of Pierce Avenue, pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, tampering with a witness and endangering the welfare of a child.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said the victim, a man in his 40s, was standing next to a child when he was shot. Hoffmann said the wound was relatively minor.

*A 19-year-old pleaded guilty Friday to robbing his cousin at the point of a shotgun and to breaking into a home in Wilson and stealing guns.

Michael J. Williams of Pierce Avenue admitted to reduced charges of attempted first-degree robbery and attempted second-degree burglary, and is to be sentenced June 2 by Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.

Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman said Williams approached a car containing several people Sept. 13 and pointed a shotgun at his female cousin before relieving her of a bag containing a necklace and other items.

On Oct. 1, Williams entered a home on Willow Road in Wilson and made off with six handguns. He was arrested later that night in the Town of Niagara.

Whitney S. Davis, 19, of Dorwood Park, Wilson, previously pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary as an accomplice for acting as a lookout during the Willow Road incident. She is awaiting sentencing.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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