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Buffalo man convicted of robbing, shooting cabdriver

An Erie County Court jury Monday convicted a Buffalo man of robbing a cabdriver and shooting him in the chest last May 13 on Clay Street in the city’s Black Rock neighborhood, leaving the victim bleeding heavily and near death.

But the jury acquitted Jason Williams, 18, of attempted second-degree murder, apparently finding that he was not trying to kill the 23-year-old cabbie when the victim was shot when he grabbed Williams’ gun.

Williams also was convicted of helping a co-defendant rob a friend of the driver who was in the cab and of robbing a prostitute earlier that day.

He was acquitted of robbing another man five days earlier at an apartment building on Mariner Street but convicted of stealing that man’s vehicle three days after the cabbie holdup.

He could face up to 50 years in prison when Judge Thomas P. Franczyk sentences him May 27 on four counts of first-degree robbery and one count of fourth-degree grand larceny, according to prosecutors.

The robbery charge carries the same maximum sentence as attempted murder – 25 years.

The jury deliberated for more than three hours Friday and nearly five hours Monday before returning the verdict following a weeklong trial.

Williams and co-defendant Davante Thompson, 18, held up the prostitute at gunpoint on Grant Street, taking her money and cellphone, Assistant District Attorneys John Patrick Feroleto and Jeremy V. Murray said. The defendants used her phone later to call a taxi to an abandoned house on Clay Street, where they were drinking. The two men got into the cab, pulled out their guns and demanded money.

Williams put his .22-caliber pistol to the cabbie’s head and took $5, prosecutors said. The victim grabbed the gun, and he was shot once in the chest.

The cabbie was critically wounded and was rushed to Erie County Medical Center, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and given several blood transfusions. He recovered but lost his gallbladder and part of his lower intestine. He has been unable to return to work since then.

Thompson robbed the cabbie’s friend and shot him in the shoulder, prosecutors said. The friend was treated in ECMC and released the next morning.

Thompson pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted first-degree robbery and testified against Williams.

On May 16, Williams saw the man he was accused of robbing May 8 and stole his van. It was later found on Clay, where Williams’ girlfriend lives. The gun allegedly used in the cabbie shooting was found in the van with Williams’ DNA on it.

Police arrested Williams on June 3 at his girlfriend’s home as he tried to escape by jumping from a window.