Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — The trial of a wheelchair-bound man suspected by police of dealing drugs ended Thursday when a Niagara County Court judge declared a mistrial in his case.
Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas dismissed a jury of seven women and five men, who had heard two days worth of testimony in the case of Frank Murphy, not long after they began their deliberations. Farkas said there were concerns that members of the jury had discussed “possible facts” that were “outside the evidence presented at the trial.”
There were apparently allegations that members of the jury had discussed information contained in newspaper articles about the case that were published prior to the trial. Farkas scheduled a hearing for July 24 to discuss the next move in the case.
Murphy, 28, 1101 Walnut Ave., Apt. 2, is facing charges of third- and fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon after his arrest by Falls police narcotics detectives.
Murphy went to trial after rejecting a plea offer from prosecutors that would have guaranteed him a minimum sentence from Farkas. In return for his guilty plea to a charge of attempted second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, Farkas told Murphy he would have received a prison term of no more than three to seven years.
That plea offer was taken away when opening statements in Murphy’s trial began on Tuesday afternoon.
Narcotics detectives Joseph Giaquinto and Jay Reynolds 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.
Reynolds and Giaquinto testified during the trial that they went to investigate the complaints and spotted a man in a wheelchair who matched the suspect description that had been left on the tip line.