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Grand jury clears Falls man in fatal shooting

LOCKPORT – A Niagara County grand jury on Tuesday refused to indict a Niagara Falls man who shot another man to death, apparently in self-defense.

Falls police never released the name of the man who shot Elijah E. Little, 28, on the night of March 11 in the Packard Court apartment complex, and they never filed any charges against the shooter.

The reason was apparent to defense attorney Phillip Dabney Jr. “It was textbook justification,” he said.

Dabney said his client killed Little because the client’s wife was being threatened by Little, with whom she had a brief relationship before her marriage.

“He had attachment issues,” Dabney said. “Even while he was doing state time, he tried to keep in communication with her, either directly or through third parties.”

In September 2010, Little was sentenced to five years in prison by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon for robbing a man at gunpoint in August 2009, and for violating a restraining order another woman had obtained against him in March 2010.

On Sept. 10, 2014, Little allegedly trashed his former girlfriend’s apartment, an arrest that led to his return to state prison as a parole violator. Little was killed only three days after he completed serving his sentence. He had been indicted on a felony charge of criminal mischief over the 2014 incident.

Dabney said the woman and her husband obtained a restraining order against Little last year, and the husband purchased a shotgun, which he used to kill Little about 9:30 p.m. March 11 by shooting Little through the front door of the couple’s apartment.

He said the couple had made several calls to police about threats from Little.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann confirmed Dabney’s statement that the grand jury had “no-billed” the shooter, but declined to discuss the evidence in the case.

Dabney said, “The District Attorney’s Office was very careful and very considerate in how they handled the case.”

He said his client was “quite emotional, tearful, and certainly expressed remorse that there was lost life.”

Dabney said Little left the apartment door momentarily after a warning shot was fired, but he returned and was shot. Dabney said his client wasn’t sure at first that he had hit Little with the round, because “Little appeared to run away from the door.” He collapsed a short distance away on the grass in the apartment house courtyard.

New York law says the use of deadly force is justified if a person has reason to believe he is in imminent danger of having deadly force used against him. Dabney said his client was “elated that the grand jury heard the story and reacted the right way.”