LOCKPORT - A dispute over drug money was the probable reason why DeMario A. Chandler of Niagara Falls was shot twice in less than six months.
So said the attorney representing Anthony L. Riley, the gunman sentenced Friday in Niagara County Court to eight years in prison for the crimes, a sentence that Judge Sara Sheldon said Riley will serve after he completes a two-year sentence for cocaine dealing.
Asked to explain Riley's hostility to Chandler, defense attorney Andrew C. LoTempio said, "It was money and it was probably over drugs, is my guess."
Chandler himself is currently under indictment on charges of selling drugs this summer in the Falls.
Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell said that Riley, in a presentencing interview with a probation officer, blamed the trouble on drugs.
But Friday in the courtroom, Riley, 25, of Welch Avenue in the Falls, blamed his past as a child who grew up in a broken home, shuffled from his mother to his grandmother. "I was just a product of my environment," he said. That environment, the streets of inner-city Niagara Falls, is rife with drugs and guns.
On Sept. 26, 2015, Chandler, now 29, was shot in the knee near the corner of 19th Street and Welch Avenue. Then on March 11, Chandler was shot on 18th Street. Caldwell said Riley "chased that person down the street and shot him in the back."
Riley, who was charged with felony counts of attempted murder, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and witness intimidation in connection with the incidents, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree assault.
"I don't care if it's the worst dirtbag in the world, they don't deserve to be shot," Sheldon said.
LoTempio said the slender, bespectacled Riley "is very polite and very respectful. ... It's kind of an enigma because he is so smart. He's as smart as anybody I've ever represented."
"He looks so clean-cut, so innocent, so 'boy-next-door,'" Sheldon said.
She told Riley that during his decade behind bars, she wants him to earn a college degree. "I will, ma'am," Riley answered.
"Damn right," the judge replied.