By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — One of three suspects in a South End shootout has taken a plea deal from prosecutors.
His two co-defendants seem set on heading to trial. Prosecutors have said any deal they're offered now won't be as good as Paul Buck got.
Buck, 23, pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree assault and will face a maximum term of seven years behind bars when he's sentenced on March 21 by Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy II.
Murphy made no commitment on a cap on the number of years that Buck may serve.
Buck had faced charges of first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment in connection with a shoot-out in the city's South End in April. His co-defendants, Marlyn Rubin and Jacob Taggart, who were in the courtroom when Buck took his plea face the same charges.
Detectives have said the trio were all involved in a hail of gunfire in the area of 12th and Niagara streets that left a Falls teen with gunshot wounds to his arm and chest.
Witnesses told detectives a dark-colored car, with three men inside, rolled up on a group of young men who were gathered on the street corner. The suspects in the car then reportedly tried to start a fight with the men who were on the corner.
As the yelling between the men in the car and the men on the corner escalated, two of the suspects in the car brandished handguns. As the men on the corner began to run away, the armed suspects began firing at them.
In pleading guilty on Thursday, Buck told Murphy he was one of the shooters.
Detectives said Anthony McDougald, 18, was shot in the left arm near his bicep. The bullet then went through the arm and entered his chest. He has now recovered from his wounds.
Rubin was arrested the day after the shooting, Buck was taken into custody, without incident, in the area of 24th Street and Whitney Avenue a few days later.
Taggart was arrested a couple of weeks later, after a brief stand-off with Town of Amherst Police.
Buck's plea means Murphy will not have to rule on a request by Rubin to have a separate trial in the case. In mid-October, Rubin's defense attorney asked Murphy to "severe" his client's trial from Taggart and Buck.
Philip Dabney argued that his client's rights to a fair trial would be violated because Buck had given a statement to Falls police detectives after the shooting. Since Buck will no longer face a trial, Rubin's request is unnecessary.
While all three three suspects had been offered the chance to plead guilty to either second-degree assault or attempted second-degree gang assault, prosecutors have indicated that offer is off the table for at least Rubin.
At a November hearing, First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann warned, "I have advised (Rubin's defense attorney) that if that plea is not taken today, it will not be offered again."
Dabney insisted his client wasn't interested and when Murphy asked Rubin if he understood it was his last chance to take a plea, he replied, "Yes."