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Tolliver convicted in Lucky murder

John "Crim" Tolliver was convicted Wednesday of fatally shooting a cousin of one of his girlfriends in a dispute over payment for a handgun he had given his victim to protect him against street violence.
The jury of seven men and five women found Tolliver, 26, of Glenwood Avenue, guilty as charged of second-degree murder and a weapons count in the killing of Robert Lucky.

Lucky, 32, got a handgun from Tolliver after word got out that he was helping homicide detectives in a murder investigation. Lucky was shot three times as he sat in his SUV moments after arguing with Tolliver in a bar at Main Street and Glenwood about 3:30 a.m. Feb. 24, 2007.

Tolliver did not visibly react as the verdict was announced at about 1:45 p.m.

Tolliver has been jailed since his arrest last year after Joyce "Gooch" Costner, a cousin of Lucky who admitted driving the getaway car in the murder, confessed to hindering prosecution by helping Tolliver escape and then ducking the law for two years.

Costner is free on bail and faces sentencing by State Supreme Court Justice Penny M. Wolfgang.

Prosecutors James F. Bargnesi and Sara N. Ogden said they will urge the judge to impose the maximum 25-year-to-life term when Tolliver is sentenced May 4.

John R. Nuchereno, Tolliver's attorney, said the conviction will be appealed.

During closing arguments, Nuchereno contended Costner went into hiding to protect the unidentified real killer of Lucky.

Costner testified that Tolliver was the gunman wearing a dark hoodie who was filmed by a nearby surveillance camera shooting Lucky outside Birchfield's bar, 1435 Main St.

The jury heard from a jailhouse informant who testified that, several months ago at the Erie County Holding Center, Tolliver told him he had killed Lucky.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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