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A Buffalo teenager was convicted Monday night in the shooting death of a local businessman.

During the four-day trial before State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr., jurors heard a witness who, shortly after she testified, was charged in a hate crime stabbing.

The jury deliberated for about eight hours before finding Jerome Thagard, 17, guilty of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.

Thagard was convicted of shooting Steven Northrup last April 29 in a field off Isabelle Street, near the Shaffer Village housing complex in Buffalo's Riverside neighborhood.

Northup, 31, a real estate appraiser, was talking to his 21-year-old girlfriend when he was shot seven times with a 9 mm handgun. The fatal shot pierced his heart.

Thagard had been jailed since police found him at Bennett High School the day after the shooting. He did not testify or present any alibi witnesses.

He faces a second trial in the armed robbery of a woman at Newburg and Esser streets a day before the slaying.

Last week, Suzanne-Deanna Grover, Northrup's girlfriend, and two teenage girls identified Thagard as the man dressed in a dark hooded sweat shirt who had walked up to Northrup and Grover as they were having a lively discussion and asked Grover, "Do you want me to shoot him?"

Without waiting for a response, Thagard, a Philadelphia Street resident, fired repeatedly at Northrup before running from the field, with Grover and the two teens in pursuit. Although Thagard was 16 at the time, he has been prosecuted as an adult in both April crimes.

Hours after Grover testified Wednesday, Central District Detectives Edward Cotter and Timothy Rooney arrested her in the attack on Lindsay C. Harmon, 29, who was stabbed in the eye early New Year's Day outside a Main Street nightclub.

The arrest papers say Grover "intentionally selected Lindsay Harmon because of a belief or perception regarding Lindsay Harmon's sexual orientation."

City Judge Joseph A. Fiorella is scheduled to hold a pretrial hearing today for Grover, who remains jailed on felony assault and hate-crime charges.

In Thagard's murder case, prosecutors Gary W. Hackbush and Paul C. Parisi said they will urge Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III to recommend the maximum 25-years-to-life term for what they characterized in court as a senseless killing.

In closing arguments Monday morning, John J. Molloy, Thagard's lawyer, maintained that the real killer remains on the streets because authorities concede that bullet casings recovered after a May 22 shooting came from the weapon used in the Northrup shooting.

Thagard will be sentenced May 2.


e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com