ALBANY, N.Y. -- Facing charges of attempted murder and attempted assault for the first time Monday, Tasheem Maeweather of Albany pleaded 'not guilty' in county court, with his lawyer insisting there is little evidence tying him to a November 12 shooting at Crossgates Mall.
Maeweather, 21, was arraigned on an indictment handed up last week. The district attorney is now alleging Maeweather went to Crossgates Mall on November 12 with a handgun, and meant to kill someone while he was there.
No one was injured in the shooting at the mall, though hundreds of mall patrons fled the shopping center in panic, with hundreds more held in quarantine as police searched the mall top to bottom.
"I think it's ridiculous," said defense attorney Lee Kindlon, who represents Maeweather. "Tasheem went to the mall that day like everybody else: to do some shopping. To say he went there with that intent [to kill someone] is just ridiculous."
Kindlon repeated Monday that he believes witness statements don't add up. Much of the prosecution's case so far rests on testimony from Trooper Ian DiGiovine, who was off-duty in the mall when he witnessed the shooting. DiGiovine has admitted he did not see the actual shooting, but saw a fight, then saw Maeweather raise his arm before hearing two gunshots.
A bullet was later discovered lodged below a mechanical escalator. No gun was ever recovered at the scene or in subsequent searches. Kindlon said that Maeweather cannot own a gun, due to his probation on a prior drug offense in Schenectady County.
"Either probation is not doing their job — which I know is not the case — or Tasheem never had a handgun and certainly didn't bring it to the mall that day," says Kindlon. "One of those two things is true, and I'm inclined to believe it's the latter."
In addition, Kindlon says prosecutors have no victim to corroborate the attempted murder charge, because no one has come forward to claim they were a target.
Prosecutors have said they will not offer Maeweather any plea deals. He faces up to 25 years in prison on the attempted murder charge, and more than 60 years overall if convicted at trial. Kindlon said Monday that Maeweather is likely already headed to prison after violating probation in the Schenectady County drug case.