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Rayshawn Bethany was convicted of killing Vernon Hardy Jr. during a drive-by shooting in May 2012, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III reported.

Senior County Court Judge Michael D’Amico found Bethany guilty of second-degree murder in the non-jury trial. It was the highest charge for which he could have been convicted,

Buffalo police faced a wall of silence in investigating the murder of Hardy, who was shot eight times by masked assailants firing from a moving van. The attack occurred at 5:15 in the afternoon as Hardy and a companion – 17-year-old Eullanda Reed – were walking on 18th Street, several houses from the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue.

Reed, who was treated for a gunshot to her arm and recovered, refused to cooperate with police.

Hardy, who had been released from prison one month before his killing, had been serving time for an attempted-robbery conviction dating from June 2007. Twice he was released on parole but then returned to prison for violations.

An investigation spearheaded by Homicide Detectives Salvatore Valvo and James Lema determined that Bethany was the driver of the van.

Sedita said that Bethany, who opted not to cooperate with authorities, remains in custody and faces up to 25 years to life when sentenced at 11 a.m. July 25 before D’Amico.

The case was tried by assistant district attorneys James F. Bargnesi and Justin T. Wallens.

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