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Jury returns 'not guilty' verdict in Buffalo burglary case

A Buffalo man accused of burglarizing a house in his neighborhood was found not guilty this week by an Erie County jury.

Wesley Early, 23, had been accused of taking televisions and jewelry out of a home on Highgate Avenue, one street away from the home he shares with his grandmother. The residents reported the burglary in August 2015 and Early was arrested two months later.

After a six-day trial, the jury determined there wasn’t enough evidence to link him to the crime. Judge David Foley heard the case.

Defense attorney Michael Stachowski, who challenged witnesses’ identification of Early as the culprit, said he believed that Early was picked out as a suspect after inaccurate information about the crime was posted on Facebook. There was no forensic evidence linking Early to the crime -- no DNA or fingerprints -- he said, and the prosecution relied largely on the eyewitness testimony.
That testimony was inconsistent, he said.

He noted that the victims claimed that two large televisions -- one 60-inch and one 45-inch TV -- were taken, along with a large amount of valuable jewelry, but none of the items were recovered. One witness who identified the defendant testified that he saw Early run from the house that night when he pulled into the drive-way.

However, Stachowski said, the witness also said the person he saw wasn’t carrying anything, especially not a television, and had his back to him as he jumped a fence and escaped. Another witness said she saw Early wearing a piece of the stolen jewelry, but Stachowski said that the item she described -- a chain with a cross on it -- was similar to Early’s own jewelry, which he wore in court.

Early has been a target of gunshots in his neighborhood. In May 2015, he was walking with his son on LaSalle Avenue when Daryle Tyson, now 21, accosted him and pulled a gun. Despite Early’s pleas not to shoot him in front of the child, Tyson kept coming at him. Early left his son in a yard with another child and ran, as Tyson fired four shots. Tyson missed, but he was arrested two days later and pleaded guilty in January to attempted murder, attempted assault and criminal possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

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