On Dec. 13, an eyewitness to a 2017 murder was scheduled to testify about what he saw. But he never showed up in court.
On Wednesday morning, authorities announced the arrest of the two Buffalo residents they said were responsible for keeping him away.
Leonnes Davis, 20, who is also known as “Man-Man,” was charged with one count of second-degree kidnapping as well as two counts of intimidating a witness and two counts of tampering with a witness. His co-defendant, 41-year-old Lashard Kyser, who is also known as “Shar,” had been arraigned on the same charges on Monday.
"Unfortunately, witness intimidation does happen. It happens too often," said Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn, who said that this incident was gang-related. "This was taken to a whole other level of actually kidnapping the person and driving him down to Virginia."
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn addresses the just-announced indictment of Leonnes Davis, 20, who, along with a codefendant, is accused of kidnapping, intimidating & tampering with an eyewitness in a murder trial in December 2018. More to come. pic.twitter.com/joUN87Mz8G
— Keith McShea (@ByKeithMcShea) January 9, 2019
The day before he was scheduled to testify, the witness was allegedly lured to a house in Buffalo and kept there against his will. When he tried to escape, he was chased down, beaten, put in a choke hold several times, forced into a car and eventually driven to Richmond, Va., where he was left at a bus station.
He later was found by Buffalo Police detectives, who returned him to Buffalo. He went on to testify in the murder trial of Tevin McCutcheon.
During a morning news conference, Flynn acknowledged that the victim was fearful of returning. "But he was willing to testify still, and without going into detail, we provided services for him to ensure his safety," he said.
McCutcheon was found guilty last week of second-degree murder in the May 20, 2017 shooting of 23-year-old Jonathan Grumble of Buffalo. Grumble's body was found in a vacant lot off Quincy and Ashley streets near Lincoln Park on the city's s East Side. McCutcheon faces a maximum 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 6.
Prosecutors say that on Dec. 12, Davis and Kyser lured the eyewitness to a home on Quincy Street. Authorities said the defendants forced the victim to remain inside the house. When he tried to escape, they allegedly chased him on to the street and Davis tripped him from behind. The victim suffered scrapes and cuts on his face and body.
Authorities began searching for him when he did not appear to testify at trial. Their investigation eventually led them to Davis and Kyser. Both were arraigned before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns.
Davis remains remanded without bail while Kyser remains remanded on $300,000 bail. Return dates for both have not been scheduled.
If convicted on all charges, each faces a maximum of 25 years in prison.
Flynn said he wants it known in the community that he will prosecute anyone who attempts to interfere with justice, and not just in matters involving homicides.
"If you tamper with an evidence at a DWI trail or a petit larceny trail, I am going to come after you," he said. "Hopefully this indictment sends a message to those out there who want to intimidate witnesses."