Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Niagara County Court judge has paved the way for the start of the first of two expected trials for Timothy Depetris.
The son of the founder of Electrodyn Choke Corp., DePetris has been charged in two cases that both involve attempts to murder his brother-in-law.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of second-degree attempted murder, two counts of conspiracy and two counts of criminal solicitation in connection with an attempt to hire a hitman, while he was in the Niagara County Jail, to kill his brother-in-law and a witness in an earlier shooting of his relative.
In mid-May, DePetris was charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree criminal use of a firearm, three counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, six counts of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and second-degree criminal trespass in connection with the shooting of his brother-in-law in the early morning hours of March 26.
Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas has since dismissed six of those charges after finding that they were not included in the New York SAFE Act at the time of DePetris’ arrest.
On Friday, Farkas rejected a request by prosecutors to present evidence of the hitman plot to the jury hearing the case involving the actual shooting of Depetris’ brother-in-law.
“I did not permit consolidation of the two cases (into a single trial),” Farkas said from the bench. “Therefore (in allowing testimony on the hitman plot at the first trial), you’d be trying both cases at the same time. So the people will not be allowed to use any of the facts from the second case (in the first trial).”
Farkas did, however, give prosecutors permission to introduce as evidence, at the first trial, a copy of the Niagara Gazette that was seized at Depetris’ home during a search by police. The Gazette edition contained an article about the shooting of Depetris’ brother-in-law.
Neither prosecutors nor Depetris’ defense team had any comment on the rulings because they are under a judicial gag order and can not speak to reporters about the case.
DePetris is accused of shooting his brother-in-law in the doorway of the victim’s new business in the 2300 block of Hyde Park Boulevard. The 56-year-old victim, who had gone to the door for a pizza delivery, was shot in the upper chest, near his shoulder.
He has now recovered from that wound.
After his arrest on charges that he shot his brother-in-law, Depetris is accused of looking for a hitman to kill his relative and the pizza deliveryman who was with him at the time of the shooting. The deliveryman has since cooperated with police and prosecutors.
A few days after the shooting, police stopped Depetris as he was driving through the city and found what one investigator called an “arsenal” inside his car.
Detectives said Depetris had a loaded semi-automatic 9-mm Baretta handgun in a holster around his neck and under his shirt at the time he was stopped. Police also recovered a fully automatic rifle and multiple, loaded ammunition clips in the back seat of the car.