A Buffalo man convicted of murder received a fair trial although a judge erred in allowing prosecutors to show jurors a “wanted poster” that depicted him and others as the 10 most wanted suspects in the Buffalo area, an appellate court ruled.
Donnell “Coot” Lloyd, 33, a fugitive for almost two years until his capture in Syracuse in 2009, was convicted of second-degree murder in 2010 for fatally shooting his friend in 2007.
The Appellate Division of State Supreme Court found that State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller should not have allowed the prosecution to introduce the wanted poster at the trial. But the five-judge panel unanimously upheld the verdict.
Prosecutor Thomas M. Finnerty said he showed the wanted poster to demonstrate Lloyd’s “consciousness of guilt.” Lloyd not only fled the scene after the shooting, but he also fled the area, heading to Syracuse to live with relatives, because the parolee knew he was the subject of a nationwide search.
The appellate judges called the error “harmless” and noted there was “no significant probability” that Lloyd would have been acquitted if not for the error. The prosecutor did not mention the poster during his closing argument, the appellate court noted.
Lloyd did not testify during his four-day trial, but his neighbor testified that he saw Lloyd shoot the victim twice at close range. Also, ballistics evidence linked the bullets that killed the victim with ammunition seized from Lloyd’s bedroom.
“The proof of defendant’s guilt is overwhelming," according to the recent decision from the five-judge panel.
Lloyd’s appeal also claimed “prosecutorial misconduct” for comments made by Finnerty during opening and closing statements.
While the court found two of his comments to be improper, they “were not so egregious as to deny defendant a fair trial,” the appeals court said.
A jury found Lloyd guilty of fatally shooting his friend, Larry Kemp, on Sept. 23, 2007, on the front porch of Lloyd’s house at 23 Warring Ave.
Lloyd’s appeal also said Boller should have suppressed the evidence seized during a search of his home.
The appellate court, however, found that a parole officer initiated and conducted a lawful search after Lloyd’s electronic ankle bracelet stopped transmitting and he failed to observe his required curfew, the appellate court said.
Lloyd is serving 25 years to life in prison, a sentence that is not unduly harsh or severe, the appeals court said.