Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT -- A Niagara County Court judge has tossed six of a dozen criminal charges filed against a Falls businessman who tried, and failed, to kill his brother-in-law and then tried to hire a hitman to kill his relative and a witness to the first crime.
Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas dismissed six counts against Timothy Depetris that were tied to the New York SAFE Act. All the charges were weapons related and involved the possession of a "large capacity ammunition feeding device" also known as a bullet clip or ammunition magazine.
Depetris' defense team had argued that the SAFE Act exempted magazines manufactured before the law was enacted and claimed Depetris' clips fell under that exemption.
In reviewing the defense motion, prosecutors said they discovered that the definitions of illegal magazines were suspended by an action of the New York State Legislature on March 29. Depetris was arrested with a large stash of weapons, ammunition and magazines on March 30.
Based on that discovery, prosecutors moved to drop the charges and Farkas dismissed them.
The judge did, however, rule that ammunition and other evidence seized by investigators using a search warrant would be admissible if Depetris stands trial in either or both of his current cases. Depetris' defense attorney, Earl Key, had challenged the seizure of the evidence, calling the search warrant "too broad."
"(The search warrant) is very specific, very tightly drawn," Farkas said in rejecting Key's complaint.
Depetris 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 his attempt to hire a hitman, while he was in the Niagara County jail, to kill his brother-in-law and a witness in the earlier shooting of his relative.