Eric Jones’ trial on drug possession and narcotics sales was supposed to start Monday morning in State Supreme Court in Buffalo.
By late morning, jurors were being sent home and the trial was canceled.
That’s because Jones was fatally shot Sunday night on the city’s West Side, hours before opening statements were slated to be delivered.
Buffalo police said a man in his mid-30s was killed inside a vehicle near the intersection of Herkimer and Helen streets, two blocks west of Grant Street, just before 8:30 p.m. He died at the scene, a police spokesman said in an email.
Police did not disclose the man’s identity, but parties involved in Jones’ trial were notified Monday morning the proceeding was called off. Jones, 35, was facing charges of drug possession and drug possession with intent to sell.
Monday morning, three prayer candles and a ceramic angel statue sat on what appeared to be a blood-stained curb on Helen Street, not far from the corner of Herkimer. Shards of broken glass had been pushed into small piles along the curb nearby.
A neighbor said she heard six gunshots Sunday night.
“The house just shook it was so loud,” she said. Her granddaughter was out on the porch of her home just minutes before the shooting, she said.
Jones was arrested Jan. 7 about a block away from where he was killed, according to sources.
Jones had been released on bond.
Attorneys last week finished jury selection for a trial before State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia.
When the jury gathered at the courthouse Monday morning, they were told there would be a slight delay in the start of the case. By late morning, they were on their way home.
Lawyers in Jones’ case said they’ve had cases in which defendants were killed before a trial was to start, or while the client awaited sentencing. But they said they’ve never been involved in a case in which a defendant was killed as a trial was just about to get underway.
Police ask anyone who may have information about Sunday night’s shooting to call or text the police department’s confidential tip line at 847-2255.
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