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DePetris wants to tell part of his story, attorney says

LOCKPORT – Timothy C. DePetris, the Niagara Falls businessman accused of shooting a rival business owner who was also his brother-in-law, and then of trying to hire a hit man to kill the victim, may be willing to testify regarding some of the charges against him, his lawyer said Monday.

DePetris, 44, is charged with shooting Sandro Viola at the latter’s office March 26. He was arrested four days later, when police said he had an automatic rifle and large quantities of ammunition in his car.

While in the County Jail, tapped phones allegedly caught DePetris on tape trying to hire a hit man, leading to a second indictment. Prosecutors said they want the two indictments combined, but defense attorney E. Earl Key said he wants the incidents in the first indictment – on the shooting and weapons possession charges – broken into separate trials.

Key said he’d like Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas to hear DePetris’ story in private, but Farkas replied that she would have to hear a lot more detail to grant such a request. She said Key seemed to be saying DePetris wants to testify regarding one indictment but not the other.

Farkas ordered the attorneys to prepare more detailed legal papers and to return to court Aug. 23. She also imposed a gag order, barring the lawyers from commenting about the case to reporters.