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City Grill Trial Faces Huge Challenges

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Since the August shooting, the City of Buffalo has been shaken by the violent events and put their ‘best’ foot forward on trying to make the

downtown streets safer. However, looking back on this incident the evidence and details that have come forward represent problems far beyond police control that are sure to make for a very perplexing up-coming trial. The Buffalo News featured an article ‘The pain is raw, the outcome uncertain’ on many details of the case, including what the public can expect from the up-coming trial.

For starters, and perhaps one of the most pertinent pieces of evidence, is the missing weapon. The gun used that night has still never been recovered by police which could be a major concern for the prosecution. Surveillance video of the area has also helped very little as the shooter is un-identifiable in the footage. Beyond that, questions have been raised about the suspect’s past and whether or not there was a gang affiliation. There has even been speculation that other violent acts have been tied to this case as retaliation for the August shootings. The City of Buffalo dealt with a drive-by shooting occurring only one month after the City Grill incident in which one of the suspect’s family members was the victim.

Recent developments in the case are surrounding statements made by the suspect while he has been held in the Erie County Holding Center. Allegedly, the suspect confided in other inmates intimate details of the case which could work against him in the up-coming trial. The judge has not yet decided on whether or not the statements will be admissible in court due to the suspect’s constitutional right to legal counsel. Lastly Buffalo Police have struggled with getting witnesses to come forward. With hundreds of people in attendance at City Grill that night, police believe people may be resistant to talk for fear of retaliation or distrust in authority. So what does all this mean as the trial approaches?

One of the foremost concerns is becoming witness credibility. Many of the witnesses scheduled to testify have criminal records which are open to discussion, and the fear that people will say anything to stay out of trouble leers among lawyers on both sides. In the same sense, the fact that there was alcohol present and the crime occurred at nearly 2:30am makes these testimonies even more difficult to prove. Seeing as much of this case will rely on witness identification the few testimonies that they have collected will be crucial.

It is also important to keep in mind the role that media has played in all this. With such extensive coverage many people’s minds have already been made up and it is important to fill the jury with an un-biased group to hear both sides. While the public won’t see much of the over-the-top tactics like they did in the recent trial of Hassan, who beheaded his wife, they are sure to have many essential questions answered. For example, what actually sparked the conflict, if there is any proof that the victims were specifically targeted, and is gang affiliation a factor?

What do you think? With all this circumstantial evidence, do you think there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt anywhere, or will this boil down to a he said, she said? How much of a person’s history do you believe is admissible in court? How do you think either a suspect or witnesses past will affect their credibility? And lastly what effect does the media coverage have on the jury and  possibly even the verdict?

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