The wife of the first defendant in Western New York to be convicted of using Facebook to intimidate witnesses was found guilty Thursday of two misdemeanor charges in the case.
Erie County Judge Sheila A. DiTullio convicted Deyanna Daniels of attempted third-degree witness intimidation and attempted third-degree tampering with a witness.
The judge issued the verdict following a nonjury trial. She set sentencing for Oct. 2.
Daniels, 25, faces up to one year in jail on each charge.
She was originally charged with two felony counts of witness intimidation and two felony counts of witness tampering in connection with two witnesses in a 2011 drug case against David McKithen, her then-fiancé.
But the judge dismissed two of the counts at the request of her attorney, Mark Sacha, after one of the witnesses, her brother, testified at her trial that no one had intimidated or tampered with him.
The judge convicted her of the lesser misdemeanor charges for trying to intimidate and tamper with the other witness.
DiTullio sentenced McKithen in January to two to four years in prison after a jury convicted the 26-year-old defendant of intimidating and tampering with a witness before his drug trial. The jury acquitted him of intimidating and tampering with the other witness and could not reach a unanimous verdict on the drug charge.
Prosecutors said he sent both witnesses’ grand jury testimony, which he obtained legally from his defense attorney, to Daniels and told her to post it on Facebook on the eve of his drug trial.
By posting the witnesses’ testimony on the social media site, McKithen intended to reveal their cooperation with law enforcement and label them “snitches,” District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said at the time of McKithen’s conviction.
After the material was posted, the two witnesses received threats to themselves and family members, Sedita said. Both witnesses said they felt intimidated into not testifying against McKithen at the drug trial.
They testified, although one refused to answer questions.
McKithen was indicted initially on just the drug charge after police said they found more than a half an ounce of crack cocaine in a car in which he was riding with three other people on Nov. 9, 2011, on Grant Street.
He went to trial on the drug charge in February 2013, and a jury could not reach a verdict.
Another indictment in May 2013 alleged that McKithen, before the initial trial, obtained the grand jury testimony and sworn statements of witnesses and that he had Daniels post them on Facebook on the day before opening statements.
Assistant District Attorneys Liam Dwyer and Seth Molisani said one of the two witnesses refused to answer questions at the first trial because of the intimidation and that both testified at the second trial about the intimidation.
McKithen pleaded guilty in December to a reduced drug charge for the cocaine police found in the car. DiTullio sentenced him to three and half years in prison and ordered the sentence to run concurrently with the sentences for intimidating and tampering with a witness.