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City Grill shooter’s murder convictions upheld

An appellate court on Friday upheld the murder verdicts of a man who killed four people and wounded four others in a shooting spree outside the downtown City Grill restaurant in 2010.

The massacre caused by 10 gunshots over 17 seconds outside the Main Street restaurant after a private party at about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 14, 2010, was the worst incidence of bloodshed in Buffalo’s recent history.

An Erie County Court jury found Riccardo M. McCray guilty of three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.

In his appeal, McCray contended the jury lacked enough evidence showing he was the person who committed the crimes. He said witnesses against him lacked credibility,

He also said the evidence failed to establish the shooter acted with intent, as opposed to depraved indifference, in killing the victims.

“We see no reason to disturb the jury’s resolution of those issues,” the five-judge panel said in its unanimous decision.

The Appellate Division in Rochester agreed with McCray that prosecutor James F. Bargnesi improperly commented that the “real Murder Matt” is the person who committed the shootings rather than the mild-mannered man who wore glasses at trial.

But the appellate judges found that “the prosecutor’s use of the nicknames is harmless inasmuch as the evidence of defendant’s guilt was overwhelming.”

There was little chance he would have been acquitted but for the alleged error, the court ruled.

McCray also accused Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio of favoring the prosecution by imposing a gag order on prosecutors and defense lawyers and by her evidentiary rulings and “sarcastic comments to defense counsel.”

“The record does not support defendant’s contention that the court displayed actual bias in its evidentiary rulings or made sarcastic comments … and the court did not err in prohibiting all counsel from making extrajudicial statements,” the appellate court said.

DiTullio sentenced McCray to life in prison without parole.

“The sentence is not unduly harsh or severe,” the appellate court ruled.

City Grill closed its doors in May 2012. In December 2013, a new restaurant, the Archer Griller Meats and Aquatics, opened in the same location.

email: plakamp@buffnews.com