Niagara Gazette

April 16, 2013

Teen pleads guilty in slaying of uncle

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — His lawyer said 20 years behind bars was too much time.

So on Tuesday, Darius "Drizz" Belton got a better deal from Niagara County prosecutors. 

The Falls teen pleaded guilty to a single count of first-degree manslaughter and County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas said she would sentence him to 17 years in prison, with five years of post-release supervision. Prosecutors had actually offered Belton an even better deal, but the judge rejected that one.

"My understanding is you offered a 15-year (prison term) and the court said that wasn't enough." Farkas said in questioning First Assistant District Attorney Doreen Hoffman about the plea deal. 

Belton, 19, 1666 South Ave., had been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in the shooting death of his uncle Luis Ubiles. Jury selection in his murder case had been set to begin later today.

Instead, prosecutors and Belton's defense team met with Farkas Monday afternoon and hammered out a deal. Belton could faced 25 years to life behind bars if he had been convicted on the murder and weapons charges.

Still, after his client took the plea deal. defense attorney Angelo Musitano said he was not happy with the outcome.

"I am not (happy). Absolutely not," Musitano said. "I thought there were some good (defense) issues here."

The veteran defense attorney had suggested that Belton may have shot his uncle in self defense. He also said he was prepared to to go to trial, but his client decided he wanted to take the plea offer.

"We had really agreed to 15 years (in prison), but the judge said she wouldn't give is that," Musitano said. "So this was second best I guess."

When Falls police responded to the shooting call in the 1600 block of South Avenue, just a few blocks from police headquarters on Sept. 25, they found Ubiles, 37, 1670 South Ave., with a single gunshot wound to his chest. He was lying in front of Belton’s home when the officers arrived.

Ubiles was rushed to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later. His sister, Anita Rodgers, said she had left his side just half an hour earlier.

"He kissed me on the cheek and said, 'I'll see you later'," she recalled outside the courtroom after he nephew's plea. "I don't know why (Belton) did it. Nobody understands this."

Fighting back tears, Rodgers said her nephew's guilty plea has not brought her any sense of closure.

"No matter how much time they give my nephew, it will never add up to the plans I had with my brother," Rodgers said. "He took responsibility for his actions. I just hope one day I can find it in my heart to forgive him."

Detectives say Belton tried to intervene in an argument between his mother and Ubiles. Belton then, reportedly, went into his home and came back out with a gun.