Jurors will continue deliberations Thursday in the trial of Joseph P. Gant, the Buffalo man accused of shooting four teenagers last summer as they ran across the Kensington Expressway footbridge.
The trial, which has covered nine days of jury selection, testimony and summations in Erie County Court, included testimony from the three surviving teens, Dae’Mone Patterson, 14; Austin Neal, then 16; and Ned Rainey Jr., 13. Dae’Mone’s brother, Raymond, was 14 when he died on the bridge after being shot in the back.
The boys testified they were playing basketball across the bridge in Roosevelt Park when they heard there was a fight taking place between two girls behind Langfield Homes, and were heading over to see what was up.
Other witnesses told how the girls’ fight spawned another brawl among some of the male spectators. That second fight dispersed when a man, allegedly Gant, pulled a gun and started shooting into the fleeing crowd.
The defense called no witnesses. In his summation, Gant’s attorney, Samuel P. Davis, outlined several scenarios that he suggested could create reasonable doubt of his client’s guilt. He implied that a gang may have been involved in attacking Gant before he pulled his gun, that it was possible the dead boy had a weapon, or that Gant had to shoot at the crowd to save his own life.
“He was forced to make a decision and he made it,” Davis told the jurors in Judge Michael L. D’Amico’s courtroom.
Assistant District Attorney Colleen Curtin Gable countered Davis’ allegations by reminding the jurors that no one testified to seeing anyone other than Gant with a gun, that police who testified said no gang activity was reported in that area and that a day after the shootings, when Gant was located, he showed no signs of injuries from the fight.
“He was shooting at people because he was angry and he was going to show them who had the upper hand,” she told the jurors.
She also said, “Ten shots shows he really wanted to hit someone.”
Because Davis included in his summation that Ray Patterson’s red belt may have indicated he had gang connections, the prosecutor countered by showing the jury all the clothes the teen was wearing when he died. Blue sneakers, jeans, the reddish belt and a blue T-shirt. As she held up the shirt, light could be seen through the holes made when the bullet hit the boy in the back and exited through his chest.
Gant, 29, of Marigold Avenue, is charged with one count each of intentional murder and reckless murder in the death of Raymond Patterson III, and three counts each of attempted murder and second-degree assault for each of the other three boys.