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Third trial set for man twice convicted in '81 deaths

LOCKPORT -- A third trial date has been set for Robie J. Drake, a North Tonawanda man convicted twice of murdering two high school classmates more than 30 years ago.

The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court has twice overturned convictions in the Dec. 5, 1981, case, which accused him in the rifle slayings of Steven Rosenthal, 18, and Amy Smith, 16.

Drake, now 47, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder in a trial in the Niagara County Court in October 1982, but that conviction was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct in 2009.

A new trial was held in March 2010, with the same results and an even a stiffer sentence, with State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. sentencing him to 50 years to life in prison, rather than the 40-to-life term he received in 1982.

That conviction was overturned by a five-judge appeals panel in Rochester on April 27. The justices said Kloch allowed evidence to be introduced against Drake that should have been disallowed.

Drake appeared before Kloch again Thursday. The judge set a new trial date for Oct. 15 but said Drake's defense attorney in the 2010 trial, Andrew C. LoTempio, has declined to represent him in this third trial. The case currently is assigned to the Public Defender's Office.


North Tonawanda student accused of false bomb threat

NORTH TONAWANDA -- A North Tonawanda High School student was charged Thursday with anonymously reporting a bomb threat to the school.

The 16-year-old youth was arrested late Thursday morning and accused of falsely reporting the bomb threat to the school, using a computer at his home.

Shortly before 10 a.m., North Tonawanda police and school officials placed the school in a lockdown mode, and fire crews were positioned close to the school as a precaution while the threat was investigated.

The threat was traced to the teen, police said, and he was charged with first-degree falsely reporting an incident, a felony that would carry a prison term for up to seven years for an adult suspect.

After being arraigned in City Court, the teen was released on his own recognizance and suspended from school pending further court proceedings.


Falls man arraigned in box cutter assault

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man with a long history of violent felony charges was arraigned Thursday in Niagara County Court on charges of second-degree assault.

Joseph A. Daniels, 59, of Cleveland Avenue, is accused of trying to slash a woman with a box cutter in the Niagara Falls Transportation Center in February.

Daniels was indicted by a grand jury and pleaded not guilty before County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas. He was ordered held in the County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Scalzo said that Daniels is shown on security video at the Transportation Center on Feb. 27.

"He was caught with a knife in his hand," Scalzo told the judge. "There is video of him chasing her around, but he never cut her." Scalzo lobbied for a higher bail, telling the judge that Daniels had a long criminal history, which included four prior violent felonies and 85 misdemeanor charges.


Plea of not guilty entered to multiple drug charges

LOCKPORT -- A Niagara Falls man was indicted on felony drug charges Thursday while awaiting a plea deal on another drug case.

Michael N. Ivey Jr., 31, of Michigan Avenue, also is facing unrelated federal drug possession charges in Ohio, according to his attorney.

Ivey pleaded not guilty Thursday in Niagara County Court to second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of marijuana. He was ordered jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Niagara Falls police executing a warrant in his home Feb. 7 said they found five ounces of crack cocaine and $1,700 in cash.

Ivey was previously arraigned Jan. 11 on fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He allegedly had 1.01 grams of crack cocaine when he was arrested by Falls police July 30, 2010.

James J. Faso Jr. asked for a postponement in that case to consider the plea "in light of the much more serious recent charges."


Visiting Korean student robbed at gunpoint

NIAGARA FALLS -- A Korean international student who said she was visiting the United States to learn English was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday outside her Main Street hotel.

The 25-year-old woman told city police she was sitting on a bench outside the Rodeway Inn in the 400 block of Main Street just after 11 p.m. waiting for a bus to the airport, when a man approached. She said he pointed a black gun, wrapped in a red handkerchief, toward her and pulled her purse out of her hand.

The woman said the purse contained her Korean passport, an international student identification card, credit cards, $110 in cash and a $500 Nikon camera.