Prosecutors called six witnesses, including the Erie County medical examiner, to testify Monday in the trial of Kenyatta Austin, the man accused of killing a woman and her grandson on Grape Street. Prior to that though, defense attorneys delivered their opening statement.
Austin, 26, of Niagara Falls, is accused of shooting four people, killing two on Grape Street in the early morning hours of July 2, 2018. Among the dead was 56-year-old Yvette Johnson and her 16-month-old grandson Kyrie Johnson.
On Thursday, prosecutors gave their opening statement with the intent to link Austin to the shootings.
Defense attorneys got their chance Monday, calling the crime a horrific tragedy. They said the prosecution will fall short of proving its case, citing many gaps in their presentation, as well as the fact that a lot of the evidence is circumstantial.
Prosecutors then called a Buffalo police detective to the stand. He said he was one of the first on the scene. When asked if anyone at any time identified or described the shooter to him, he said no.
Later on the stand, a woman who testified said she overheard a conversation between two men talking about a weapon and saying the woman shouldn’t have been out there with her grandbaby. It was a conversation she said she tried to tell police about a few days later, but the tip line was full. She eventually came forward.
Next on the stand was Erie County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Tara Mahar, who outlined in graphic detail the autopsy reports for both victims. She said Kyrie died of a gunshot wound to the head and died instantly, and that Yvette also died of injuries after being shot in the lower back and lower buttock. Dr. Mahar testified the bullets came from a high velocity rifle, but wasn't sure if they were fired from the same gun.
The day's testimony wrapped up with crime scene analysts who testified they collected surveillance video from two residences on Peach Street behind Grape.
“There is a hole at the middle of this case. And in that hole the prosecution has asked the trier of fact to make a series of leaps that don’t necessarily follow logic or reason,” said James Auricchio, defense attorney.
Testimony in the case is set to resume Tuesday morning. Prosecutors are expected to take their case into next week.