Witnesses fail to show in court

Gerald W. Williams Jr., the man accused of taking two shots at another man Memorial Day evening, was

Gerald W. Williams Jr., the man accused of taking two shots at another man Memorial Day evening, was released from custody on Friday after key prosecution witnesses failed to show up for a felony hearing.

Fulton County Court Judge Richard C. Giardino, serving Friday as a city court judge, released the 34-year-old suspect on his own recognizance when it was apparent necessary witnesses were not present.

Williams, who is charged with attempted second-degree murder and first-degree criminal use of a firearm, was ordered to return to court July 7 and Giardino warned him to stay away from potential witnesses in the case.

District Attorney Louise K. Sira declined to elaborate on Friday’s developments but said she will present the case to a grand jury next week.

Sira said her investigation into the May 26 shooting is continuing.

“Certain witnesses were unavailable” for Friday’s hearing, she said. Sira did not acknowledge it but other officials said among the key witnesses absent Friday was the man at whom Williams allegedly took shots.

Given the nature of the case, Sira did say that perhaps witnesses were missing Friday because they “fear further violence.”

Gloversville police Capt. James Lorenzoni expressed a similar view, asserting it is not surprising in a shooting case that witnesses might be reluctant to testify.

Williams’ lawyer, Gerard V. Heckler, said while someone apparently fired shots on North Water Street on Memorial Day, Williams “denies he was there or did any such thing.”

Friday’s hearing, he said, was the prosecution’s first opportunity to support the charges and noted, “for one reason or another witnesses were not produced.”

By law, Heckler said, without sufficient evidence to hold Williams authorities were compelled to release him.

Williams, a convicted drug felon and a resident of East Eleventh Avenue in Gloversville, was arrested May 29 and charged with firing two shots from a .40-caliber handgun at an individual standing on a North Water Street porch.

Police said Williams was driving a gray van and fired as he and two or three others were leaving the residence. The group had just finished roughing up a 46-year-old victim, police said.

Investigators said one bullet nearly struck the man. The slug was recovered from a porch railing.

Police haven’t recovered the gun they believe was used in the incident. A .40-caliber shell casing was found at the scene.

Lorenzoni emphasized Friday that the absence of witnesses will not deter the continuing investigation.

“It’s a setback but not the end of the investigation,” Lorenzoni said. “Our goal is to do whatever we can to ensure the safety of our streets for the residents of our community.”

Williams was arrested in May 2000 in Johnstown for selling crack cocaine to an informant that February. He was later indicted and in January 2001 was sentenced to a prison term of 41⁄2 to 9 years.

A spokeswoman for the state Division of Parole said Williams was released from prison in 2004 and discharged from his parole obligations in 2006.

Categories: Schenectady County

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