LOCKPORT – The wife of Cordarise M. Houston, a Niagara Falls man who was sentenced to 32 years in prison for a near-fatal shooting, was given a conditional discharge Friday for helping him hide from police.
“I realize what I did was wrong. It was probably the worst mistake I’ve ever made,” said Marguerita Houston, 24.
She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of attempted hindering prosecution after renting a room in the Niagara Falls Motel 6 in the early hours of May 26, 2013, to help her husband hide from police.
Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III said the woman’s actions were “something many if not most spouses would do.”
Cordarise Houston, 24, had just shot John Petty seven times in the victim’s Cudaback Avenue apartment, leaving the man paralyzed from the waist down.
Police and prosecutors speculate, but lack sufficient evidence to prove, that Houston killed Joseph Medley Sr., 37, of Ashland Avenue, on May 19, and that Petty was shot because he had knowledge of that.
Marguerita Houston’s attorney, Janelle Messer, said she didn’t know what was said privately between the couple, but she said the woman’s action in renting a hiding place “was just a wife doing what she could for her husband.”
Police tracked them down two days after the Petty shooting, arresting them in the motel room.
Testimony at a pretrial hearing revealed that four officers came to the motel, after one had tailed Marguerita Houston from her Amherst workplace to the motel. Deputy Joseph Shanley testified that Cordarise Houston shouted through the door, “I’m on my knees. I have my hands behind my head.”
When police entered, they found it was just as Houston had said. His wife was found hiding behind a door in the Motel 6 laundry room.
Messer said Marguerita Houston intends to get a divorce and move to Florida.
The conditional discharge allows her to do that. Had she been placed on probation, she would have had to remain in Niagara County.
She had been having a relationship with Cordarise Houston since she was 14 years old. “This case has opened her eyes,” Messer said.
Cordarise Houston had been released from prison in January 2013 after serving seven years for burglary.
Four months after that came the gun violence.