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Two witnesses to revenge killing point to accused Schuele Boys gang member

Marcel Worthy talked about the now-infamous City Grill shooting that left his girlfriend and three others dead, as well as his efforts to remember her through a photo in a rap music video.

On the witness stand, Worthy also talked about another shooting – a drive-by that killed a 16-year old boy – and his role in that decade-old murder.

But it was toward the end of his testimony that the Schuele Boys member finally got to the 2012 revenge killing that brought him to court and the allegation that fellow gang member Roderick Arrington pulled the trigger that day.

"He shot him," Worthy said of his boyhood friend.

At that point, a number of Arrington's friends and family, a constant presence at the trial, stood up and walked out. Worthy, still on the stand, bowed his head.

Two weeks earlier, Worthy had been sitting next to Arrington as both men headed to trial, each one facing a mandatory life sentence if convicted.

But Worthy, on the same day his jury was being picked, changed course, took a plea deal and agreed to testify against Arrington.

"You sat here for well over a year," Andrew C. LoTempio, Arrington's lawyer, told Worthy at one point. "You denied there was such a thing as the Schuele Boys. You denied there was an enterprise."

Jury views rap music videos linked to Schuele Boys gang

At the heart of the federal case against Arrington is the claim that he and Worthy joined others in an organized street gang that, for 15 years, used violence to protect its drug dealing turf just south of the Erie County Medical Center.

Prosecutors say Arrington was the gang's "executioner" and that, in August 2012, he carried out that role when he shot and killed Quincy Balance near the corner of Northland and Stevens avenues. They claim the murder was an act of revenge for the murder four days earlier of Schuele Boys associate Walter "Matt" Davison.

On the witness stand, Worthy testified that he saw Arrington shoot Balance and that he heard more shots as he ran from the scene.

Damon Hunter, who was also from the neighborhood but not part of the gang, said he was there too and witnessed Balance's confrontation with Arrington and several others.

"I felt a bad vibe," Hunter told the jurors hearing the case against Arrington. 'They thought we had something to do with Matt's death."

He said Arrington was about two feet away from Balance when he shot him.

"He fell and I ran," Hunter said.

Worthy, who LoTempio described as the government's "star witness," admitted he had previously lied about Arrington's involvement in the shooting.

Arrested in 2014, Worthy – like Arrington – was charged with murder and was facing a possible life sentence when he took his 11th-hour deal with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to two felony charges – racketeering and narcotics conspiracy – and admitted a role in the killing of 16-year-old Kevin Gray in December 2006.

Gray was killed after Worthy and several other Schuele Boys confronted him and other teens at a gas station near Grider Street and East Delavan Avenue and asked them if they were members of the Chelsea Boys, a rival gang.

Later that day, an unidentified shooter in a vehicle fired into the same group of teens on Durham Avenue and Gray, who was not a gang member, was killed. Worthy claims he was driving but that someone else pulled the trigger.

Deadly Buffalo gang boasted of crimes in rap music videos, prosecutors say

While on the stand this week, Worthy also testified about two rap music videos the government points to as proof that the Schuele Boys were an organized criminal enterprise, recalling that one at a local steakhouse was recorded on his birthday.

The videos, titled "Trap the Dinner Table" and "Front Door," were produced by Gone Entertainment, a record label the Schuele Boys created to boldly tout the gang's triumphs, according to prosecutors.

In Dinner Table, Arrington and other alleged gang members can be seen drinking champagne while a waiter serves them large plates piled high with cash.

"Bottles of Dom Perignon at Russell's Steakhouse," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Wei Xiang.

From the start of the trial before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, LoTempio has suggested the music videos are the government's only evidence of a street gang. He also questioned the prosecution's motivations in using the videos and, in his closing statement, looked at the jury and noted that, with one exception, it was all-white and largely rural and suburban.

"It's a way to tug at your fears and prejudices," he said of the rap music videos they watched. "It turns these people into zoo animals and you start thinking of them as different species."

Replayed several times for the jury, the videos include a photo of Worthy's former girlfriend, one of the four people shot and killed during the City Grill shooting downtown seven years ago.

Early on in the Schuele Boys case, prosecutors said members of the gang were at the Main Street bar and restaurant and may have been among the targets when a fight broke out inside and eventually spilled into the street.

The killer, Riccardo M. McCray, also known by the nickname "Murder," was convicted of murdering four people that night and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

For LoTempio, one of the region's most prominent criminal defense lawyers, this was his last trial after 29 years in the business. He hopes to win election as a Buffalo City Court Judge in November.

"This is my last time doing this," he told the jury Thursday.

Jurors will begin deliberations Friday.

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