With the help of a witness who recently came forward, prosecutors have indicted a man in a double shooting from 2013 that killed an innocent woman and wounded a friend of hers.
Leron Bailey, 35, was arraigned Thursday morning on charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon. Authorities said they believe Bailey was the gunman who fired repeatedly into a car at Stevens Avenue and East Ferry Street at 8:30 p.m. on June 24, 2013.
Diamond Toler, 20, was sitting in the backseat. One of the bullets struck her in the heart and she was killed. Investigators believe the intended target was Moses McCullen, then 27, who also was shot and wounded. District Attorney John J. Flynn said Toler and McCullen were friends.
In court Thursday, Bailey's assigned attorney, Nicholas Hicks, told City Court Judge James A.W. McLeod that Bailey, currently in state prison on another conviction, intended to represent himself in the murder case.
Asked by the judge if that were true, Bailey said, "Yes sir. I didn't do nothing, so. ... "
McLeod advised Bailey that he had yet to see someone indicted on such serious charges who represented himself and was not in jail, but Bailey responded, "I don't know anybody with a public defender who is not in jail. For this case I'm in prison for now, I was told I had a good lawyer, and I'm doing five years for jaywalking."
Bailey was convicted of more than jaywalking. Bailey, who has several prior felony convictions for drug offenses dating back to when he was 20 years old, was arrested in November 2013 on a weapons charge and has been jailed ever since. In that case, he was seen trying to throw away a loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun as police chased him, and when officers caught up to him he was carrying more than 2 grams of cocaine, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Bailey is now serving a five-year sentence in Groveland Correctional Facility since pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a controlled substance. Because he would be eligible for parole at the end of 2017, McLeod ordered Bailey to be held without bail on the murder charge. Bailey faces a possible prison sentence of 50 years to life if he is convicted.
Members of Toler's family were in court to witness the arraignment. Sitting near them was Detective Antonio Borrelli of the Buffalo Police Homicide Squad, who handled the case. The detective said after court that the case was helped by the willingness of a witness to come forward.
Asked why someone would speak up four years after the crime, Borrelli said, "Time has passed and sometimes a sense of morality gets people to come forward, to ease the family's suffering."
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Eugene T. Partridge III of the Homicide Bureau.