LOCKPORT – A prosecutor speculated that Cordarise M. Houston, who was sentenced Wednesday to 32 years in prison for shooting a friend, was trying to silence a potential witness who could have tied him to an unsolved murder in Niagara Falls.
But Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Houston with the May 19, 2013, slaying of Joseph Medley Sr., 37, who was found lying on the ground in front of his Ashland Avenue home.
A week later, Houston entered the Cudaback Avenue apartment of John Petty, 25, a man he’d known since sixth grade, and shot him seven times.
Hoffmann told Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III Wednesday that she thought the motive for the shooting was “to shut up Mr. Petty” in connection with the Medley killing.
One of the bullets that struck Petty plowed through his spinal canal, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Houston shot Petty six times after Petty was down, Hoffmann said. “He left John Petty there to die. By a sheer miracle, Mr. Petty survived that,” the prosecutor said.
Testifying from a wheelchair, Petty told the jury that he didn’t remember the shooting, which occurred about 1 a.m. May 26, 2013, but he recognized his own voice on a tape of the 911 call he made, identifying Houston as the shooter.
Cellphone records showed that the men talked for more than 17 hours in the eight days before the shooting, and there was no sign of forced entry when Houston showed up at Petty’s apartment.
Petty had a loaded handgun of his own in his pocket, but he never drew it. Petty, who said his last memory before the shooting was of selling marijuana on 19th Street, said he acquired the gun to protect himself in the drug business.
Hoffmann wasn’t so reticent. “This defendant has a horribly violent history that began at a very young age,” she said.
Houston was charged with three violent felonies, including shootings, in 2006 and 2007. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to second-degree burglary and was sentenced to seven years in state prison.
He was released in January 2013 and within four months had shot Petty and allegedly killed Medley.
His wife, Marguerita Houston, 24, pleaded guilty April 10 to attempted second-degree hindering prosecution for renting a motel room in which she and Cordarise hid out after the shooting. The couple was arrested there two days later.. Mrs. Houston will be sentenced Friday for that misdemeanor charge