In a videotaped interview with investigators after he was taken into custody last Aug. 13, Joseph P. Gant repeatedly denied that he was part of a crowd watching two girls fighting near the Langfield Homes complex minutes before three teenagers were shot on a nearby footbridge. One of the teens was killed.
Prosecutors presented the video Monday in Erie County Court as testimony resumed in Gant’s trial after a one-day hiatus because of a juror’s illness.
Gant, 29, of Marigold Avenue, is charged with one count each of intentional murder and reckless murder in the death of Raymond Floyd Patterson III on Aug. 12, and three counts each of attempted murder and second-degree assault in the wounding of Patterson’s brother, Dae’Mone, 13, Austin Neal and Ned Rainey Jr., 13, on that same day. He also faces a weapons charge.
The defendant sat in Michael L. D’Amico’s courtroom with his head bowed and eyes half-closed while the video played. Even with the volume turned up, listeners strained to hear Gant’s mumbled answers on the recording as he was questioned about the events leading up to the shooting on the walkway over the Kensington Expressway that links Roosevelt Park to Langfield.
Earlier in the trial, jurors heard witnesses identify Gant as the man who was using his cellphone to record the girls’ fight. Other spectators also were capturing the fight on their phones, and prosecutors have presented images from one of those recordings that show a man whom witnesses identified as Gant at the fight.
While the girls were fighting, another conflict broke out among males who were on the sidelines. The shootings took place when that fight suddenly dispersed.
During the taped interview, investigators suggested to Gant that boys started jumping him and he feared for his life, so he started shooting. He responded, “Not me.”
He also is heard telling investigators that whoever said he was at the fight was lying.
In other testimony, Katherine F. Maloney, assistant chief medical examiner at the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office, described Ray Patterson’s wounds. The boy was hit by three bullets, including one in the back. Maloney said the curved position of the fingers on the boy’s right hand was consistent with muscle contractions when a person died.
Defense attorneys have suggested that the teen’s “trigger finger” was bent because Patterson, who had been playing basketball before he ran onto the bridge, carried a weapon.
Along with the bullet wounds, Ray Patterson had bruising on his face, which Maloney said likely were caused when he fell forward after being shot. The lack of swelling on the bruises indicated that he died no more than 30 minutes to an hour after he fell, she said.
Later in the day, jurors watched more video, introduced by defense attorney Samuel P. Davis while cross-examining former Buffalo Homicide Detective Salvatore A. Valvo, who investigated the case. The images from a surveillance camera at the housing complex showed panning views of the parking lot and various vehicles coming and going while the fights were occurring. Valvo, now an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, said efforts to identify who was in the vehicles were unsuccessful.
Valvo also testified that the gun used in the shootings was never found.