A Buffalo man convicted of firing the bullet that killed an innocent 82-year-old bystander was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in state prison.
Jurors last month deliberated just 35 minutes before convicting Bangaly D. Chelley of second-degree murder for killing Ansumane Kanneh on May 28, 2011, outside Kanneh’s apartment near the Maryner Towers apartment complex, close to LaSalle Park, on the city’s West Side.
Chelley, 30, fired at someone else who had fought him a day earlier, prosecutors said. He stepped out of a sport utility vehicle and fired three shots from a handgun, not far from where Kanneh was fixing his granddaughter’s bicycle. Kanneh was shot above his left eye.
Kanneh brought his family to Western New York in 2004, fleeing from a civil war in his native Liberia. He raised his children and led a productive life, homicide prosecutor Colleen Curtin Gable said during the sentencing hearing.
“By contrast, the defendant chose a far different path,” Curtin Gable said.
Curtin Gable, who was joined by Erie County Assistant District Attorney Michael Smith in prosecuting the case, cited incidents of domestic violence and weapon possession in Chelley’s past.
Chelley did not speak during the hearing, on the advice of defense attorney Barry S. Dolgoff.
Dolgoff said Chelley maintains his innocence. The prosecution’s witnesses conspired to testify against his client to help them out of their own legal problems, he said, and the jury got it wrong.
State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller said he carefully listened to witnesses throughout last month’s trial.
“I have to tell you,” Boller said, “I think the jury verdict made perfect sense to me.”