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Key murder trial witness arraigned in burglary

LOCKPORT -- A key witness in a recent murder trial was arraigned Monday in Niagara County Court on a burglary indictment.

Jerquan M. Morange, 21, of Niagara Falls, pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary, fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal mischief.

Morange was in court March 3, reluctantly testifying against Tyrome L. Elder of Niagara Falls.

Morange was declared a hostile witness, allowing the prosecution to read into the record by means of leading questions a statement in which he had told Niagara Falls police that Elder admitted to him that he was present for the Nov. 7, 2009, robbery and ensuing shooting death of Jacob L. Lovett of Buffalo.

Elder was convicted of murder.

In Monday's case, Morange is charged with a Jan. 21 burglary at a Centre Avenue apartment.

Co-defendant Taurian D. Nix, 19, of Centre Avenue, pleaded guilty in that case Friday to a stolen-property misdemeanor.


Parolee pleads not guilty to cocaine possession

LOCKPORT -- A man whose parole officer allegedly caught him with cocaine was arraigned Monday in Niagara County Court.

Tyrone B. Bruce, 27, of Robinson Road, Lockport, pleaded not guilty to fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance -- 1.39 grams of cocaine he allegedly had Oct. 24 at his home.

Bruce is currently serving an 18-month jail sentence for the resulting parole violation.

He was on parole after serving state prison time for a 2009 drug felony.


Small electrical fire shuts down Falls school

NIAGARA FALLS -- A city middle school was evacuated Monday after a small electrical fire adjacent to the building just before 8 a.m.

The 500 students at Gaskill Prep, 910 Hyde Park Blvd., were dismissed for the day just after 10 a.m., after they were sent to nearby Hyde Park Elementary and 24th Street School when a small transformer fire was reported in an alley adjacent to the building.

Deputy School Superintendent Mark Laurrie said the district's auto-dialer system informed parents of the evacuation.

No injuries were reported, and classes were expected to resume today, Laurrie said.


Ex-store employee pleads guilty in burglary

LOCKPORT -- The May 31 inside-job burglary of a Dollar General store in Niagara Falls was wrapped up Monday, as an ex-employee pleaded guilty to petit larceny.

Jennifer Sattelberg, 25, of 79th Street, Niagara Falls, had been charged with giving a key to the store to Gregory A. Stephens, 47, of Falls Street. He pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree burglary.

Sattelberg agreed to pay the store $294 in restitution.

Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza scheduled sentencing for May 27.

In another case Monday, Judge Matthew J. Murphy III placed Natalie C. Godfrey, 28, of Robertson Street, Middleport, on five years' probation for attempted third-degree burglary.

Godfrey entered her mother's Town of Lockport home Oct. 28 and stole prescription medicines.


Three armed men make big haul at store

Three young men, each armed with a handgun, stole thousands of dollars in cash and merchandise late Sunday from Big Basha Central, a well-known East Side store, Buffalo police said.

The robbers entered the store on the 800 block of Jefferson Avenue at about 8:45 p.m. and took $1,200 from the cash register, $1,400 worth of jackets and approximately 10 pairs of size 10 sneakers valued at $1,000, according to Central District police.

An investigation into the robbery is continuing.


Man who ignored order of protection jailed

David J. Makowski, the younger brother of a former judge, was ordered Monday to spend up to another year in jail for ignoring a court order of protection barring him from his widowed mother's Buffalo home.

Two years ago, the unemployed Makowski, 45, was sentenced to a year in local jail on an aggravated contempt charge for assaulting his mother, Dolores Makowski, now 76.

On Nov. 1 following a nonjury trial, Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk found Makowski guilty of misdemeanor criminal contempt for violating that order, which was granted after a 2009 physical incident.

The judge Monday also chided Makowski, who has no permanent address and has failed court-ordered mental health and alcoholism counseling, for aimlessly living his life.

Prosecutors Rachel L. Newton and Peter J. Marche said Makowski still faces grand jury action for a third complaint linked to dealings with his mother.

David Makowski is the younger brother of former State Supreme Court Justice Joseph G. Makowski, who was forced to resign in 2009 for submitting a false affidavit to help a lawyer friend in a drunken driving case.

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