BUFFALO, N.Y. —Two teenagers, who are thus far the only ones facing charges from a melee that resulted in a stabbing and shooting outside of Buffalo’s McKinley High School February 9, were back in Erie County Court on Wednesday where each appeared with new attorneys.
Because they appeared in juvenile court, and due to the possibility that their cases could still end up in family court, 2 On Your Side is not publishing their names at this time.
For now, the two 17-year-old defendants, both charged with attempted murder and assault, remain held without bail in the juvenile detention center on East Ferry.
The family of one of the defendants, who is charged with shooting a security guard during the incident and who is originally from Taiwan, was in court to hear a judge say that bail won’t be addressed until the next court date, which is scheduled for April 8.
The family has hired attorney Jeremy Schwartz to defend him.
“It’s tough being in East Ferry. He’s away from his family, he’s very young, and it’s very tough to deal with,” Schwartz said.
Louis Mussari represents the other defendant, who is accused of stabbing 14-year-old McKinley student Surgio Jeter 10 times.
Mussari says a wrinkle in the state’s relatively new Raise the Age law could aid in his effort to get his client released from custody and his case transferred to family court.
“The Raise the Age statute allows for family court removal,” Mussari said. “The District Attorney can object to that but they have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that there was either serious physical injury or that the juvenile had a deadly weapon or used a deadly weapon.”
In court, Mussari stated that while his client admitted to police that he was involved in a fight with the victim, he denies he was the one (among a group of others who gathered during the fight) who actually stabbed him.
He also noted that prosecutors have yet to produce evidence, such as a knife, photographs, DNA, or witnesses, to prove his client actually did the stabbing.
Prosecutors, however, are quick to note that under certain circumstances someone involved in fight can still be held criminally liable for the conduct of another person who intercedes during a fight and that the defendant admitted being present and participating in the assault on Jeter.
Her again, though, he brings up the Raise the Age statute.
“The raise the age statute is silent on accessorial liability and while it’s good and fair you can indict under accessorial liability it’s not necessarily okay under the raise the age statute,” Mussari said. “I doesn’t mean there are sufficient ground to keep this case in county court.”
Mussari also notes his client is originally from Nepal and believes a language barrier may have played a part in him being charged as he was.
“That creates some issues which can call into question how dependable any sort of interview or statement is here,” he said.