The last of four defendants accused in a series of jailhouse attacks against a murder trial witness has been acquitted after a trial.
Cory Ford, 29, was acquitted Friday in Schenectady County Court of both counts against him — attempted assault and witness tampering, both felonies.
Ford had been accused in the first of three attacks at the Schenectady County Jail last February against a man set to testify against James Wells. Wells was on trial then for the 2011 killing of Schenectady High School student Eddie Stanley.
The witness later testified despite the attacks. After six weeks of testimony from a host of witnesses, Wells was convicted of second-degree murder.
Had Ford been convicted, he faced 18 months to three years in state prison, due to his criminal history.
Ford was represented at trial by attorney Mark Gaylord, who said Monday that the prosecution’s case had too many holes, including the alleged connection between Ford and Wells.
Wells was a member of the Bloods street gang. The most recent information alleging Ford was involved in a gang was more than a decade old, and it was a different gang, Gaylord said.
“There was no proof whatsoever that Cory was a Blood,” he said.
Prosecutors alleged Wells used his gang membership to order the attacks on the witness.
Regarding the attack itself, Gaylord said the murder witness admitted to being angry before the fight broke out, and said Ford was defending himself.
“I think the jury looked at the altercation that Cory and the victim got into as just kind of a coincidence close to the other attacks,” he said.
Ford remains in jail on alleged violations of his parole in another case.
The case was prosecuted by Deanndra Macomber, who said Monday that, unlike the other two attacks on the same witness, no one saw how the fight began. One of the other attacks happened in the recreation yard, the other in an elevator.
The three others charged in the second and third attacks were Jason Rodriguez, 29; Calvin Jones, 27; and Jonathan Armstrong, 24. All have since pleaded guilty to related charges.
All four were accused of attacking of acting at Wells’ behest.
Wells was convicted of the June 2011 killing of the Stanley, who was 15 years old. Stanley was shot as he attended a party for teenagers, where the much older Wells was ostensibly providing security but opened fire on unarmed teens in a dispute over missing keys.
Wells was sentenced in June to more than 30 years to life in prison.