Niagara Gazette

Courts

June 30, 2014

Wheelchair-bound man charged with dealing drugs will go to trial

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — A wheelchair-bound man charged with dealing drugs has turned down a plea offer from prosecutors and will face a jury beginning on Monday.

Frank Murphy, 28, 1101 Walnut Ave., Apt. 2, rejected the plea deal even though Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas said she would impose the minimum possible sentence in the case. In return for his guilty plea to a charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, Murphy would have received a prison term of no more than three to seven years. 

Murphy, who has a prior felony criminal conviction in Ohio, will now go to trial on charges of third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

"He does not wish to take the plea," Murphy's assigned defense counsel David Mansour told Farkas.

Mansour also told the judge that Murphy wanted to get rid of him and hire high-profile defense attorney Angelo Musitano. Farkas said she would not delay the trial to allow Murphy to bring another attorney into the case.

"You can't change attorneys on the eve of trial," she said. 

The judge also told Monsour she was not taking him off the case "unless (Murphy) hires another lawyer who will try this case on (Monday)."

Farkas "cautioned" Murphy that she did not believe Musitano would agree to take the case with less than a week to prepare for the trial. The judge also warned Murphy that the "plea (offer) will be off the table when we walk through (the courtroom) doors (on Monday)."

Police seized a gun and drugs from Murphy when they found him in the 500 block of Ferry Avenue while investigating complaints called into a public tip line of a “man in a wheelchair selling drugs" in that area.

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