Schenectady County

Court upholds Schenectady shooter’s 2007 conviction

Antwon White received a fair trial before being convicted of firing a bullet that struck a city t

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Antwon White received a fair trial before being convicted of firing a bullet that struck a city teen in the head and caused him to suffer a permanent brain injury, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.

Justices with Appellate Division of state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conviction of White, 24, of Albany, who is serving a 25-year prison sentence after being found guilty of first-degree assault in July 2007. White was acquitted of attempted murder and first degree intentional assault stemming from the May 2006 shooting, which left then 15-year-old Reyes “Richie” Guerrero in an “irreversible persistent vegetative state.”

Defense attorney Cheryl Coleman argued the court should overturn the conviction on a number of grounds, including that the presiding judge wrongly allowed Guerrero to be present in the courtroom gallery during testimony. But in their seven-page ruling, the justices ruled that neither the prosecution or the judge had erred during White’s trial or sentencing.

“Although [White] had only a minimal prior criminal record, County Court specifically took into account the victim’s devastating injuries combined with [White’s] lack of remorse and refusal to take responsibility for his conduct,” stated the opinion written by Justice Anthony Cardona.

White and a friend were driving though Schenectady when they stopped to talk with a female acquaintance during the early morning hours of May 26, 2006. When a group leaving a nearby party learned White was from Albany, a physical confrontation broke out.

During the fray, White got out of the vehicle brandishing an unlicensed handgun and fired a single shot. Guerrero, who was a bystander, was struck once in the head.

White later testified that he fired a warning shot into the air and that Guerrero was struck by a bullet that didn’t come from his gun. He also claimed the use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself from the gathering crowd.

Guerrero attended the trial over the objection of Coleman, who argued that his presence in the courtroom could unduly influence the jury. The appeals court also rejected this claim, noting that Guerrero was even ushered out of the court when he began drawing attention to himself.

“In fact, after the victim began making audible involuntary noises during the proceedings, County Court cleared the room and directed the victim’s family to take him out of the courtroom so the jury would not be distracted,” the decision states.

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