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Unwilling to plead guilty in Falls tourist assault, defendant replaces lawyer

LOCKPORT – Robert E. MacLeod, the Niagara Falls man accused of robbing and sexually assaulting a Japanese tourist in Niagara Falls State Park on Christmas night, is changing lawyers rather than change his plea.

MacLeod told Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III that he has hired Herbert L. Greenman to replace A. Joseph Catalano as his defense attorney.

Catalano had said in court July 19 that he advised MacLeod to take a plea offer to two felonies, second-degree robbery and first-degree sexual abuse, with a 15-year maximum sentence. MacLeod then said he wanted a new lawyer.

Catalano said in court Thursday that he met with MacLeod on July 21 at the County Jail and showed him the evidence the prosecution has shared with him so far, which reportedly includes a surveillance video that shows the robbery but not the sexual assault.

“We see this case entirely differently,” Catalano reported. Murphy granted his request to be relieved of the case.

The Niagara County District Attorney’s Office paid to fly the alleged victim, Koyuki Nakahara, from Japan to testify before the May grand jury, and is willing to so again if the case goes to trial, Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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