LOCKPORT – A Niagara County Court jury will deliberate today on whether to convict a Buffalo man tied to a 2011 Niagara Falls home invasion by DNA on a pair of handcuffs used on the alleged victim.
“You want to talk about a reasonable and logical conclusion,” Assistant District Attorney Claudette S. Caldwell told the jury during her closing argument Monday in the trial of Brandon D. Green, 31, of Davison Avenue.
She presented evidence from Niagara County forensic scientist Keith Paul Meyers, who matched DNA on the cuffs to a sample Green had to deposit in the state DNA database after a previous robbery conviction.
Meyers said the odds that the DNA on the cuffs came from someone else were one in 319.5 trillion.
Never mind, said defense attorney Thomas J. Eoannou, who proclaimed that Green, who faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, is “stone cold innocent.”
“DNA does not put Brandon Green in the house. Anything after that is a guess,” Eoannou told the jury.
He said the DNA could have gotten onto the handcuffs “by a cough, a sneeze,” or by someone who had contact with Green in the past.
The victim, a 60-year-old man who lives on Parkview Avenue in Niagara Falls, testified that he was awakened at about 2 a.m. May 16, 2011, by three masked men, at least two of whom appeared to have handguns.
He said he was handcuffed and had a pillow placed over his face as the intruders demanded, “Where’s the safe?”
Eventually, they found it behind a gas-burning fireplace, forced the resident to give them the combination, and fled with money the man estimated at $525,000. Also stolen was some jewelry belonging to the man’s girlfriend.
Eoannou questioned whether there was actually a crime. He said there were no signs of forced entry, no DNA anywhere but on the handcuffs, and no one heard the burglars drive away.
“Must be the luckiest burglars in the world,” he said.
He also questioned whether anyone would really put more than half a million dollars in cash “behind a fire.”
Caldwell said, “Is that careless? Yes, but that doesn’t mean he’s not telling the truth.”
She told the jury, “The central issue is still identity, and that gets us back to the DNA … There was twice as much DNA [on the cuffs] from Brandon Green as from [the alleged victim, who] had the cuffs on for 20 minutes.”
Caldwell said the burglars opened the victim’s car and used the garage door opener to get inside. The garage door was still open when the police arrived, and an officer said he saw swelling on the victim’s face consistent with his story of being hit in the face with an object by one of the intruders.