LOCKPORT – Paul E. Buck Jr. admitted in Niagara County Court on Thursday that he gunned down an 18-year-old man on a Niagara Falls street corner April 25, leaving him with a bullet lodged near his heart that surgeons are unable to safely remove.
Buck, 21, who said he has no home but jail, accepted a plea deal to a reduced charge of second-degree assault and agreed to testify against co-defendants Jacob J. Taggart, 23, and Marlyn M. Rubin, 20, of the Falls.
They are scheduled for trial Jan. 28 on charges of first-degree assault and gang first-degree assault, but Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said that although they rejected plea offers before, she might reinstate them.
“If they asked, I probably would,” Hoffmann said. The offers would be Class D felonies, the same level of plea that Buck agreed to Thursday.
The maximum penalty for that is seven years in state prison. The maximum would be 25 years behind bars for those convicted of the original charges at trial.
Although Buck admitted shooting Anthony McDougald in the incident at 12th and Niagara streets, that’s doesn’t get Taggart and Rubin off the hook.
County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III said the defense attorneys in the case have been fixated on who actually shot McDougald. “That’s not an element of the gang assault charge or the assault charge,” the judge reminded them.
The three were indicted under the accomplice liability provision, meaning all are equally guilty if prosecutors can show they had criminal intent toward McDougald.
“There was an argument,” Buck said under questioning by Murphy. “We had some words. We were going to fight, but we didn’t. We went toward the casino.”
“You shot him?” the judge asked.
“Yeah,” Buck answered.
“Were Mr. Taggart and Mr. Rubin with you at the time?” Murphy asked. “They were,” Buck replied.
The plea came after Murphy ruled that Buck’s statements to police would be admissible in a trial.
Taggart’s attorney, Frank L. LoTempio, said he would talk to Taggart about taking a plea.
Rubin is the only one of the three who is not in jail. McDougald testified that he saw Buck and Taggart with guns, but not Rubin.