Niagara Gazette

Courts

April 2, 2014

Houston shooting case goes to jury

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — Defense attorney Angelo Musitano likened his client’s plight to that of the character, Dr. Richard Kimble, in the movie the “Fugitive.”

“(The movie) started with a 911 call,” Musitano told a Niagara County Court jury on Tuesday afternoon. “(The character of Kimble’s wife, who ends up murdered) says on the call, ‘Richard, Richard, Richard.’ and he gets (wrongly) arrested.”

But First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann countered to the nine men and three women hearing the attempted murder case of Cordarise Houston that, “The shooting of John Petty was not a movie. It was not done for entertainment.”

The veteran prosecutor and the well regarded defense attorney took just over an hour and half to sum up the week long trial of Houston. Hoffmann argued that Houston methodically fired seven bullets into a man he’d known since middle school.

Musitano suggested that Petty’s identification of Houston as his shooter was not “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“This defendant,” Hoffmann said as she strode across the courtroom and stood pointing at Houston, “make no mistake, this man, walked into John Petty’s house and shot him. He fired once, knocking him to the ground and then fired six more shots into him. Then he fled and left (Petty) to die in a pool of his own blood.”

Musitano told the jurors there “was no issue” that Petty “was shot” and “he could have died.”

“The only issue is, did this particular defendant commit these offenses,” he said. “We respectfully submit Ms. Hoffmann has not provided evidence to convince you beyond a reasonable doubt.”

At both the beginning and end of her summation, Hoffmann played a recording of a 911 call that Petty made moments after he was shot. As the operator picks up the call, Petty says, “I’m dead. Hurry up. 1957 Cudaback, hurry up. I’m shot, hurry up. I’m shot, hurry up.”

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