By Rick Pfeiffer
A Falls man, accused of shooting a 2-year-old child in the face, decided to cop a plea rather than place his fate in the hands of a jury.
With his victim's mother and his intended target sitting in the courtroom on Monday, Willie “Boo” Scott pleaded guilty to a charge of attempted first-degree assault. A two time convicted felon now, Scott will face 5 to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced by Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III in November.
Scott, 33, had faced charges of first-degree assault, first-degree criminal use of a firearm and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon in connection with the shooting that took place in the parking lot of the Hometown Market at 17th Street and Pierce Avenue on Nov. 27. Had he been convicted on those charges, Scott could have been looking at an up to 25 year prison term.
Investigators said Scott was shooting at a man sitting in the front seat of the car. However, instead of hitting his target, Scott’s bullets slammed into the rear door of the vehicle, striking the child who was sitting in the rear seat.
The little girl suffered “two gun shots directly to the face.”
As part of the plea, Murphy asked Scott to explain what he was doing when he shot the child.
"You had a gun in the car and what we're you shooting at," Murphy asked. "Were you shooting at someone or shooting at the car?"
"I was shooting at the car," Scott said.
Scott turned toward the courtroom spectators a short time later and glared at the man who police say was his intended victim. The man stared directly back at Scott and shuffled in his seat.
Court security officers then moved into the line of sight between the two men in an effort to defuse the situation.
The little girl, who is now 3-years-old, spent more than three weeks in Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, undergoing at least two surgeries to remove a bullet and bullet fragments from her face. Her mother said she will need plastic surgery when she gets older, but is continuing to recover.
"She's pretty well now. She's Ok,' the woman said.
She also expressed some disappointed with Scott's potential prison sentence, noting that she knew drug dealers serving more than 10 years behind bars.
"Ten year's isn't enough," she said.
Scott's defense attorney, Earl Key, said the plea deal worked for both his client and prosecutors.
"This case was no slam dunk," Key said. "There was risk for them and risk for us."
As part of the deal, Scott gave up his rights to appeal in the case, except for a decision that Murphy made removing his first lawyer. Defense attorney Angelo Musitano was removed from the case because Murphy ruled that he had a "conflict of interest."
Musitano had previously represented the mother of Scott's victim in a number of criminal matters.
Key said that if Scott is successful on his appeal, that could overturn his guilty plea.
"I believe that's Mr. Musitano's understanding (that a successful appeal would overturn the guilty plea)," Key said.