Schenectady County

City man guilty in diner shooting

Michael Estella was convicted of attempted murder Tuesday evening in the 2006 Olympic Diner shooting
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Michael Estella was convicted of attempted murder Tuesday evening in the 2006 Olympic Diner shooting that injured three, officials said.

A Schenectady County Court jury returned the verdict by 7 p.m., having gotten the case late in the afternoon.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Burock said Tuesday evening, “I really think this highlights the issue of witnesses feeling reluctant about coming forward.” The witnesses who came forward and testified should be commended, Burock said.

Estella was convicted in a case that included reported attempts at witness intimidation and people trying to avoid testimony out of fear.

Besides the attempted murder verdict, Estella was found guilty of other charges. The attempted murder conviction itself carries a sentence of up to 25 years in prison. He faces more time on assault and related counts. He is to be sentenced in September.

Much of the case against him hinged on witness recollection, but also a surveillance tape from the diner.

Defense attorney Adam Parisi argued in his closings earlier Tuesday that the tape was the only impartial witness and that the tape did not conclusively show Estella firing or even with a gun.

The video, he said, showed witnesses ducking behind tables, people who would later testify they saw things they couldn’t have.

Parisi also tried to take apart witnesses’ testimony by emphasizing motives to get leniency from the district attorney’s office in other cases. Their testimony, Parisi said, “was molded, biased and created.”

The jury found differently, Burock said. In speaking with the jury afterward, she said, the panel found it was clearly Estella who fired.

Estella, 22, formerly of Chrisler Avenue, was convicted of opening fire inside the diner on Aug. 6, 2006. Three men were hit, including the 24-year-old Ishmael Robinson, who was shot in the stomach. None of the three suffered life-threatening wounds.

Also shot were 19-year-old Akeem Boynton and 21-year-old Carvell Griffin. Griffin has previously been identified by the name Taren Day. It was Griffin who was believed to be the target of the shooting.

Griffin also has said it was not Estella who was the shooter, something Parisi emphasized, but which Burock downplayed.

Griffin, Burock said, has a history of mistrust of the law.

The 20 people who were inside that morning had a right to order their omelets and French toast in peace “without bullets whizzing by their heads and without being terrorized,” she said.

Robinson testified that he was there ordering breakfast before going to work when seven shots rang out. He was hit when he attempted to flee the diner. He is also one of those Parisi argued sought deals in unrelated drug cases.

“You know the defendant fired those shots,” Burock told the jury. “The mountain of evidence shows he was the one who did it.”

Estella was arrested in February 2007, months after the shooting. Authorities found him in Tennessee.

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