Two Niagara Falls men were arraigned Friday on murder charges stemming from the Dec. 8 shooting death of a Niagara University student during a robbery attempt in his University Court apartment.
Gordon N. Jackson, 17, the alleged shooter, and accused accomplice Cordero R. Gibson, 23, pleaded not guilty before Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas. She set bail at $500,000 for Jackson and $200,000 for Gibson.
Jackson, of Lockport Street, and Gibson, of Niagara Avenue, are charged with entering the apartment of Brandon Johnson, 20, a junior from Rochester.
Police said Gibson allegedly drove Jackson to and from the scene, but Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said Friday that Gibson entered the apartment, too.
"Mr. Gibson is believed to have been an aide. He is not believed to have been the shooter," Hoffmann told the judge.
The prosecutor declined to comment about why the suspects allegedly targeted Johnson or what they were trying to steal.
Farkas set a pretrial conference, which may not be held in the courtroom, for April 11. The trial is tentatively set for June 11.
The indictment charges the men with two counts of second-degree murder: one for intentional killing and the other for "felony murder," a killing committed during the course of another felony.
Other charges include two counts each of attempted first-degree armed robbery and single counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree criminal use of a firearm.
Jackson is represented by attorney E. Earl Key and Gibson by attorney Michael Deal.
In another Niagara Falls case that involved gunfire, Dwayne W. Handley, 28, of 15th Street, pleaded guilty to a gun possession charge Friday.
State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. said he will place Handley on probation when he returns to court March 16, and freed him from jail immediately.
Handley was charged with firing three or four shots at a fleeing man April 18 near the corner of 20th Street and Pine Avenue. One round went through the wall of a house and shattered a picture above a woman who was watching TV, police said.
As part of the plea deal, charges were dismissed against Handley's girlfriend, Christina M. Hinks, 20, of Ontario Avenue. She had been charged with hindering prosecution.
Charges remain open against Reginald J. DuBose, 31, of Pierce Avenue. He was charged with two counts of witness intimidation and single counts of criminal mischief and auto stripping.
DuBose allegedly called a female witness Sept. 8 and smashed her car window Sept. 12 in an effort to dissuade her from testifying against Handley.