Niagara Gazette

February 28, 2013

Falls teen may claim self defense in slaying of uncle

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A Falls teenager, accused of gunning down his uncle, has rejected a plea offer from prosecutors and may claim he acted "in self defense."

During a hearing Thursday for Darius "Drizz" Belton, his defense team told Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas they would not accept an offer that would require their client to plead guilty to a charge of first-degree manslaughter and face a maximum prison term of 20 years.

"We considered the (plea offer) the other night and it is not acceptable," defense attorney Angelo Musitano told Farkas.

Belton, 18, 1666 South Ave., faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the murder of his uncle Luis Ubiles on Sept. 25. A conviction on the murder charge would mean Belton could face 25 years to life behind bars.

Outside the courtroom, Musitano said he objected to the length of the proposed sentence in the plea deal.

"I don't care about the (first-degree manslaughter charge), but 20 years is too long," he said. 

When asked by reporters what would be an acceptable sentence, Musitano replied, "Something much less than 20."

"If the (potential maximum sentence) comes down between now (and an April trial date) there is still the possibility of a plea," Musitano said. 

When Falls police responded to the shooting call in the 1600 block of South Avenue, just a few blocks from police headquarters, they found Ubiles, 37, 1670 South Ave., with a single gunshot wound. He was lying in front of Belton's home when the officers arrived.

The gunshot struck Ubiles just below his chest in his abdomen. Ubiles was rushed to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Witnesses to the shooting were not initially cooperative with police.

"Everybody said they didn't see anything," Detective Lt. Michael Trane said at the time.

However, investigators said they later determined that Belton had tried to intervene in an argument between his mother and Ubiles. Belton reportedly went into his home and came back out with a a gun.

However, Musitano said his client did not go into his home to retrieve a weapon and suggested that Belton may have shot his uncle in self-defense.

"The guy (Ubiles) ran towards (Belton)," Musitano said. "It's a possibility that (self defense) is going to be argued in his case."

w/ NIA Belton, Darius mug 030113 Darius Belton Rejects plea deal