Jurors deliberated just 35 minutes Friday before convicting Bangaly D. Chelley of second-degree murder for firing the bullet that killed an innocent bystander - an 82-year-old grandfather.
Ansumane Kanneh was fixing his granddaughter's bicycle May 28, 2011, outside his apartment on the city's West Side when he was shot above his left eye.
Chelley, 29, fired a handgun at someone who had fought him a day earlier, prosecutors said. But Chelley missed the intended target near the Maryner Towers apartment complex.
"I was surprised but pleased by how quick the verdict came in," said homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable, who, with Assistant District Attorney Michael Smith, prosecuted Chelley.
Chelley was also convicted of criminal possession of a weapon.
Kanneh, a father of five, brought his family to Buffalo in 2004, fleeing from a violent civil war in his native Liberia. His widow and two of his children were in the courtroom for the verdict.
Prosecuting Chelley was not simple.
Witnesses did not come forward to help the police investigation until months after the shooting, and only when one of them ran into legal problems of her own.
The man whom prosecutors said Chelley was trying to shoot did not come to court at all, despite efforts by authorities to track him down the past two days.
Defense attorney Barry S. Dolgoff sought to discredit the testimony of several prosecution witnesses during his closing argument.
But jurors did not spend long evaluating their statements and weighing their credibility before returning the guilty verdict at 2:20 p.m.
"They believed a bunch of thugs and liars," Dolgoff said of the jurors. "It makes no sense."
Jurors' sympathy for the victim also hurt his client's chances, he said.
"I think they felt very sorry for the gentleman who was killed," he said.