Share this article

print logo

Paraplegic victim can’t remember Falls shooting

LOCKPORT – Testifying from a wheelchair, John Petty of Niagara Falls told a Niagara County Court jury Thursday that he can’t remember the shooting that cost him the use of his legs.

Petty, now 25, was shot seven times in his Cudaback Avenue apartment in the early hours of May 26. His injuries included spinal cord damage.

But despite his memory loss, Petty said he’s heard the tape of the 911 call he made, identifying Cordarise M. Houston as the shooter, and he confirmed that it’s his voice on the recording.

Houston, 24, of 70th Street, is on trial on charges of attempted second-degree murder, assault and weapons possession.

Petty identified Houston in the courtroom, pointing to him at the defense table. He said he had been friends with Houston since sixth grade, and last May he saw him once or twice a week.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann, attempting to counter defense attorney Angelo Musitano’s efforts to use alleged mispronunciations of Houston’s first name as a defense strategy, asked Petty if he knew anyone called Cornelius Houston or Cordelius Houston. He did not.

Petty also said he had no knowledge of two Niagara Falls criminals whose names came up in testimony Wednesday.

Retired Niagara Falls Detective Patrick Stack, who worked on the case, testified Thursday that he checked the police databases and found no one named Cornelius or Cordelius Houston.

Hoffmann explored Petty’s memories of May 2013. “What’s the last thing you remember?” she asked.

“Being on 19th Street,” Petty answered.

“What were you doing on 19th Street?” Hoffmann asked.

“Selling marijuana,” Petty replied.

The prosecutor asked, “What’s the next memory you have?”

Petty answered, “Being in the hospital.”

Petty was in Erie County Medical Center for three months and underwent numerous operations. He said there is some slight sensation in his legs. “There’s still hope for me to walk,” he testified.

He said he had bought a handgun on the street, a gun police found in his pocket after the shooting, to protect himself in his marijuana dealing. But he said he didn’t remember anyone coming into his apartment and didn’t recall having any problems with anyone in the Falls.

Also Thursday, County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III excused a female juror who told some of the other jurors Wednesday that she knew some of Houston’s relatives, whom she saw sitting in the audience. The judge rejected Musitano’s motion for a mistrial and seated an alternate juror.

After a day off today, the trial will resume Monday.