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Jury hears 911 tape of shooting victim identifying his attacker

LOCKPORT – A Niagara County Court jury today heard a dramatic tape of a 911 call in which John Petty, a Niagara Falls man who thought he was dying, identified the man who shot him.

However, defense attorney Angelo Musitano told the jury that the victim won’t be able to identify defendant Cordarise M. Houston in person.

“We believe Mr. Petty’s going to come into this courtroom and not point out that man there,” Musitano said, gesturing at Houston.

That’s because Petty reportedly has lost his memory of being shot seven times in the living room of his apartment on Cudaback Avenue in Niagara Falls in the early hours of May 26.

Houston, 24, of 70th Street in the Falls, is on trial on charges of attempted second-degree murder, second-degree assault and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

On the 911 tape, Petty told operator Drew Lazarou, “I was shot. Hurry up.”

When Lazarou asked who shot him, Petty replied, “Cordarius Houston.”

Musitano raised the mispronunciation issue in his opening statement. He and Hoffmann both pronounced the defendant’s first name “Cor-DARE-iss.”

On the tape, Petty said, “I’m dying, please hurry up,”

A few seconds later, he said, “I’m dead.”

Lazarou asked him where he was shot and whether the shooter fled on foot or in a vehicle. “On foot,” Petty said.

Lazarou said, “If you’re still talking, you’re still alive.”

“I’m not,” Petty replied.

Officer Daniel Haney, the first policeman on the scene, arrived at 12:53, three minutes after the 911 call. He found Petty on the living room floor, lying on his stomach.

“He was in and out of consciousness. He had a phone lying next to his ear,” Haney said. “There was a heavy smell of gunpowder in the air. You could see it was still cloudy [in the room].”

Haney said he asked Petty who shot him and had to do so three times. He said Petty seemed to be saying Cordarise or Cordelius.

“He was definitely saying Houston,” Haney testified.

He found several shell casings on the floor and bullet holes in the walls. He said the ambulance crew lifted up Petty’s shirt.

“He had bullet holes in his stomach,” Haney said.

Houston faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if convicted. Houston rejected a plea offer with a 10-year sentencing limit on March 7.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann told the jury of eight men and four women that Petty is a paraplegic, unable to use his legs and with no feeling in one of his arms.

“That is the result of this man’s actions,” Hoffmann said, pointing at Houston.

She said Hoffmann and Petty were friends, even playing basketball together. The prosecutor said Houston “walked into [Petty’s] house and fired one shot, knocking him to the ground, and six more while he was on the ground, helpless.”

She did not offer a motive for the shooting.

Musitano said police found a loaded handgun and “multiple small baggies” in Petty’s pockets before he was loaded into an ambulance.

Houston was arrested May 28 in a Niagara Falls Boulevard motel room. His wife Marguerite Houston is to be tried separately on a charge of hindering prosecution for allegedly helping conceal him.