By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT -- Jacob Taggart had one last chance to make a deal, but he walked away from what Niagara County prosecutors called their last, best and final offer.
"He didn't take the deal," First Assistant Niagara County District Attorney Doreen Hoffman said. "Now the offer is off the table."
Taggart, 23, is charged with two others in a wild shoot-out in the Falls South End in April. Both his co-defendants have also turned down plea deals.
His defense attorney, Frank LoTempio, characterized the deal as "unacceptable" to his client. Taggart is now scheduled to go to trail, with his co-defendants, on Jan. 28.
The deal offered to Taggart along with Marlyn Rubin and Paul Buck, would have allowed any or all of them to plead guilty to lesser charges, but required that they testify against their co-defendants.
Taggart, Rubin and Buck are all charged with first-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment. Prosecutors offered all three the chance to plead guilty to either second-degree assault or attempted second-degree gang assault.
Detectives have said the trio were all involved in a hail of gunfire at a South End intersection on April 25. The shooting, in the area of 12th and Niagara streets, 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.
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.
McDougald was taken to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and then transferred to the Erie County Medical Center. He eventually 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. Acting on what they said was a tip, Amherst cops converged on a Niagara Falls Boulevard motel and took Taggart into custody at gunpoint.
All three men are currently set to be tried together, however, Rubin's defense attorney has asked to have his client's trial "severed" from that of his co-defendants. Philip Dabney has argued that Rubin should not be tried along with Buck and Taggart because Buck gave a statement to Falls police detectives.
Prosecutors say nothing Buck said to investigators would impact Rubin's defense.
A hearing to determine whether or not Buck's statement can be used at the upcoming trial has been delayed because his attorney has stepped down from the case following criticism of his work by Niagara County Court Judge Matthew J. Murphy III.